The Sovereignty and Goodness of God

The Sovereignty and Goodness of God Summary and Analysis of Removes 14-18


The Fourteenth Remove

They start to head towards the bay towns. All Mrs. Rowlandson has to eat for the day are cake crumbs that a Native American girl gave her the day she was taken captive. (This detail lets the reader know she lied in the beginning about not being given any food.) The crumbs frequently refresh her when she is ready to faint.

The group kills a deer, and Mrs. Rowlandson enjoys eating the fawn meat they give her. It rains that night, and, unlike many of her captors, Mrs. Rowlandson sleeps dry inside a bark wigwam, for which she thanks the Lord. 

The Fifteenth Remove

They come again to the Baquag River and stay there a few days. Sometimes one will give her a pipe, tobacco, or salt, which she trades for food. She notes how ravenous she has become in starvation and how unsatisfied she feels even when she eats until she can eat no more. Many times she would be "ready to run out against the Heathens," but scripture reminds her that God is the force behind everything. 

The Sixteenth Remove

The group wades across the cold, swift Baquaug River, and Mrs. Rowlandson feels feeble as she crosses the knee-high water but thinks of the Lord. She cries as she puts her shoes on, but she gets up.

A Native American comes to say that Mrs. Rowlandson needs to go to Wachusett because there is a letter from the Council to the Native American leaders about redeeming the captives, that there will be another in fourteen days, and that she must be there. Her strength and spirit return at this news.

They travel one mile more and stay there two days. Thirty men arrive on horseback in English apparel, making Mrs. Rowlandson's heart skip. When they get get closer, she is disappointed to see that, instead of having "the lovely faces of Christians," they have "the foul looks of these Heathens."

The Seventeenth Remove

The remove is comfortable because of Mrs. Rowlandson's hopes for restoration. However, her spirit falters as her strength fails with starvation. They come to a Native American town that night, and a Native American man feeds her, which again revives her spirit. 

The Eighteenth Remove

They have a wearisome day. Mrs. Rowlandson sees an unknown English man stripped and dead on the ground. They come to another Native American town, which has four English captives, including Mrs. Rowlandson's sister's daughter. She visits her and finds her well. She would have stayed with her for the night but was forbidden. She is denied food at a wigwam that is cooking corn and beans.

At another wigwam she and an English child are given pieces of horse feet. The child is only able to gnaw on the tough food, so Mrs. Rowlandson takes the food from the child and eats it. She remarks that meat that once would have been an abomination to her is now savory. Her mistress tells her she disgraces her master with begging, and they will knock her on the head if she continues. Mrs. Rowlandson says that knocking her on the head would be no different from starving her to death. 


This is the second time the group crosses the Bacquaug river. The first time, Mrs. Rowlandson crossed without wetting her feet thanks to God. This time, she has to wade knee deep and cries when putting her shoes back on but has to comfort herself.

Interestingly, Rowlandson quotes the same Bible passage as she wades across the river as when she crossed it the first time and did not get her feet wet: "When thou passeth through the waters I will be with thee, and through the rivers they shall not overflow thee, Isai. 43.2" Using this passage both times shows her view that God protected her physically when first crossing and supports her emotionally during the second crossing. Perhaps most importantly, it demonstrates the persistence of her faith in the face of good or bad fortune, in face of the apparent favor or absence of favor from God. 

Despite the time Mrs. Rowlandson has spent with the Native Americans, her prejudice is still strong, as evidence in her dissapointment at the men dressed in English attire's having "the foul looks of these Heathens" instead of "the lovely faces of Christians." This statement occurs almost immediately after she receives news that she is to be brought to Wachusett for redemption. Her prejudice is perhaps renewed to full strength by the contrast of the Native Americans with the English, both by Rowlandson's soon being with the English and the Native Americans wearing English attire. 

Hunger is a running theme throughout Rowlandson's captivity, but it seems especially psychologically pervasive at this point in her journey. Even though she knows she will probably soon be redeemed, her spirit falls from starvation. The strength of her hunger is gruesomely demonstrated by Mrs. Rowlandson stealing food from an English child, an act of savagery if ever there was one. 

Moreover, instead of presenting her bad deed in a confessional way, Rowlandson rationalizes it by saying the child could only gnaw on the tough meat. She even thanks the Lord for making such an unappealing food taste good. It is hypocritical on her part to thank the Lord for his providence when engaging in such an act. Her behavior serves as a foil to the woman and other Native Americans who share their food with her and the child when all they have are boiled horse feet and other scraps as all of them suffer from war. By stealing food from the child, Mrs. Rowlandson brings herself to the same level as her mistress, whom she condemns for allegedly wanting to starve her to death.