The Sovereignty and Goodness of God

The Sovereignty and Goodness of God Summary and Analysis of Remove 20


The group moves three or four miles and builds a wigwam large enough to hold one hundred in preparation for a day of dancing. They say that the governor will not keep sending for the captives for anger at the loss at Sudbury. Mrs. Rowlandson's sister tries to visit her, but her master angrily prevents her and makes her go back in the rain. The Lord requites this by his later being hanged in Boston. 

Native Americans come from all around for the dancing day, and among them Goodwife Kettle, also captured at Lancaster. Mrs. Rowlandson begs to see her daughter, who is a mile away, but she is prevented: "They made use of their tyrranical power whilst they had it: but through the Lord's mercy, their time was now but short."

On a Sunday, Mr. John Hoar arrives with Tom, Peter, and the third letter from the Council. The Native Americans do not shoot Mr. Hoar but shoot around him as a show of power. When the Native Americans have talked with Mr. Hoar to their satisfaction, they allow Mrs. Rowlandson to see him. He tells Mrs. Rowlandson her husband and friends are well and gives her a pound of tobacco from her husband, which she sells for nine shillings. She asks if she can go home with Mr. Hoar, and they say no.

The next morning, Mr. Hoar invites the leaders to a dinner, but most of the food was stolen from Mr. Hoar's bags in the night. The Native Americans seem to be ashamed and say it was a bad Native American that did it. They ate very little because they were busy preparing for the dance. There were eight dancers, four men and four women, including Mrs. Rowlandson's master and mistress. Rowlandson describes their attire and the dancing ritual, which goes on until almost nightfall, in detail.

The Native Americans continue to say Mrs. Rowlandson can only be redeemed by her husband, but her master later sends a Native American, James the Printer, to tell Mr. Hoar that she can leave tomorrow if he gives him liquor, which he does. King Philip summons Mrs. Rowlandson and says he will give her some good news and put in a good word for her if she gives him money, corn, and tobacco. Mrs. Rowlandson's master returns drunk to the wigwam, the first time Mrs. Rowlandson has seen a Native American drunk during her captivity. He eventually goes to his eldest wife for the night. 

On Tuesday, the Native Americans' General Court agrees to release Mrs. Rowlandson.

Mrs. Rowlandson takes a moment in her narrative to outline outstanding acts of providence she has witnessed during captivity: 1. When the English seemed strong and the enemy weak, God left "His People" to be destroyed by the Native Americans at Lancaster. 2. The Native Americans scoff at the slowness of the English army. 3. While the Native Americans safely passed over the Baquaug River in large numbers, preserved by God "for further affliction to our poor country," the English were stopped. 4. While the English destroyed much of the Native Americans' food supply, the Native Americans, "srengthened [by God] to be a scourge on his people," are saved from starvation by eating a variety of unpalatable foods. 5. When the Native Aericans were at the highest, and the English at the lowest, the English only had hope in God. Once the English reached this place in their faith, the Lord defeats the Native Americans.

In a "remarkable change of Providence," Mrs. Rowlandson is now allowed to leave, with many shaking her hand, asking for her to send goods, or offering her gifts. Once a Native American couple offered to run away with her, but Mrs. Rowlandson said she would wait for God's time. She thanks God that, despite living among savages who feared no one, none ever sexually violated her physically or verbally. She insists that she does not lie to save her reputation but speaks this to God's glory. 

At sunset, Mr. Hoar, Mrs. Rowlandson, Tom, and Peter arrive at the solemn, decimated Lancaster and spend the night sleeping on straw in a farm house. 

Before noon, they arrive at Concord, where Mrs. Rowlandson is relieved to see so many Christians and where she sees her brother-in-law, who did not know his wife had died at Lancaster. They continue on to Boston, where she is reunited with her husband, but they are both preoccupied worrying about their children. Mrs. Rowlandson is grateful to be among Christians instead of the "cruel Heathens," and enumerates the many people who helped raise her ransom, including Mr. or Ms. Usher (a printing error makes the gender unknown), and the many who welcome her and her husband into their homes, including Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Shepard of Charlestown, who house them for eleven weeks, and Mr. James Whitcomb

While riding Eastward to seek news of their children, Mr. and Mrs. Rowlandson run into Mr. William Hubbard, who tells them that their son and nephew are with Major Waldrens. After Mr. Rowlandson preaches for Thanksgiving in Newbury, someone tells him that his daughter is in Providence. They retrieve their son first, as he is closer. He is redeemed for seven pounds with money gathered from the people there. Their nephew is redeemed for four pounds by payment of the Council.

A guarded provision cart of the English army carries their daughter to Dorchester from Mr. Newman's Rehoboth house. God's providence is shown in how their daughter was redeemed: traveling with a group of Native Americans, she lagged behind with a single Native American woman, and they eventually came to Providence. Thus she was redeemed at no charge. 

The family gathered, they leave the Shepards' house for a house hired for them by the South Church in Boston, which is soon furnished "by the belevolence of Christian-friends."

Since her captivity, Mrs. Rowlandson now lies awake at night thinking about things past and weeping at the goodness of God in restoring her to her comfortable life. She has seen the vanity of the world. Sometimes she was jealous of those whom she saw afflicted, "For Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth." She has now been swept with affliction and seen that God is good and that whole dependence must be on him. She now is quieted in smaller troubles by memories of her afflictions and her thinking on the Lord. 


Mrs. Rowlandson is grateful to be among Christians instead of the "cruel Heathens," and she cites the charity of the English in raising her ransom money and in housing her and her family. It is interesting that it is with these acts of kindness she attempts to draw a contrast between the English and the Native Americans, as the most common act of charity by the Native Americans was the gift of food and shelter despite being strangers. The Native Americans' charity is therefore highly comparable to that of the English, with the Native Americans' kindness only being magnified by their own lack of resources to give during wartime. Given that Rowlandson repeatedly recounts the Native Americans' kindness, the reader is left to wonder whether she intentionally attempts to draw a parallel under the disguise of a contrast, or she remains unaware of her inconsistency?

When closing her narrative, Rowlandson discusses "the vanity of these outward things," but moments earlier she remarks of the house rented for her family by the South Church in Boston, "I thought it strange to set up Housekeeping with bare walls; but, as Solomon sayes, Mony answers all things." Such inconsistency further makes Rowlandson seem like a hypocritical person and belies her own preoccupation with certain fixtures of worldy status. 

Mrs. Rowlandson's closing account of divine providence recalls her confusion at God's earlier preservation of "the heathens." Her argument reinforces her idea that the English colonists are God's chosen people, and that whatever good or bad fortune befalls the Native Americans is by God's hand, with an interest in helping, punishing, or teaching the English. 

She also argues that the English have strayed from God, and that God afflicted them so that they could recognize their need for full dependence on him. Rowlandson implicitly draws a parallel between her own spiritual journey as a woman who found the right path and whose faith was strenghtened by affliction, and the spiritual journey of the English colonists as a whole. 

Although she draws a parallel between her journey and that of her fellow colonists, Mrs. Rowlandson clearly views herself as a special, chosen person. She has been dealt more affliction by God, a mark of his affection, than most of her peers, leading her to a higher spiritual plane. While others sleep, she lies awake, weeping over the goodness of God.