The Sovereignty and Goodness of God

The Sovereignty and Goodness of God Summary and Analysis of Removes 2-4


The Second Remove

The group departs from their camp by the town for the "Wilderness," making Mrs. Rowlandson very sorrowful. One of the Native Americans carries Mrs. Rowlandson's wounded daughter on horseback, and the daughter continually cries "I shall dy." Mrs. Rowlandson carries her until she falls down with fatigue. They both are put on a bare horse. They fall over the horse's head going down a steep incline, and their captors laugh at them. The manner in which the Lord renews and maintains Mrs. Rowlandson's strength shows His power to an extent she had never before experienced.

It begins to snow, and the group stops for the night. Mrs. Rowlandson has to sit in the snow by a small fire, holding her daughter in her arms. Her daughter's wound has thrown her into a violent fever, and she continually calls for water. Mrs. Rowlandson's mobility is limited by the stiffness of her own wound. She fears her daughter's immediate death, bemoans that she has no Christian friend with her, and thanks the Lord for her continued strength. She and her daughter survive the night.

The Third Remove

The group departs in the morning, and Mrs. Rowlandson and her daughter ride horseback seated behind a Native American man. She and her daughter are weak from their wounds and hunger "from Wednesday night to Saturday night." This group arrives to the town of Wenimesset in the afternoon. (Wenimesset is a Nipmuc town, though Rowlandson doesn't specify this here.) She is shocked at "the number of Pagans (now merciless enemies)." With tomorrow being Sunday, the Sabbath, she thinks on how many Sabbaths she has misspent and how mercifully the Lord upholds her despite her religious failures. 

A man from Roxbury named Robert Pepper, who she says was wounded and taken captive during Captain Beers's fight, visits her. (The footnote says Captain Beers's fight took place in September 1675, many months after the current events, making this account confusing.) He has been with the Native Americans for "a considerable time" and got leave to see her, knowing she was in Wenimesset. He teaches her to heal her wound with oaken leaves, as he did when he was wounded. This method cures her.

Mrs. Rowlandson spends much time alone with her dying child. Three Native Americans come to tell her that "her Master" will soon knock her child in the head. Instead, however, she continues to hold her daughter in her lap, whom she is ordered to take with her to another wigwam. On February 18, 1675, her daughter dies, nine days after her initial wound at Lancaster, at the age of six years, five months. Once not able to stay in the same room as the dead, Mrs. Rowlandson spends the whole night beside her dead child. 

In the morning, knowing her child has died, "they" send Mrs. Rowlandson back to her master's wigwam. She reveals that her master is the political leader Quinopin, to whom she was sold by the Narraganset Native American who first took her on her leaving the garrison. She is prevented from taking her child with her, and they later show her the place on a hill where they buried her child. She goes to visit her ten-year-old daughter Mary, taken at the door by a "Praying Indian" and sold later for a gun. Although Mary is at a nearby wigwam, Mrs. Rowlandson has little opportunity to see her because the Native Americans bid her to leave when Mary starts crying upon seeing her. 

Despondent, Mary asks the Lord for a good sign. Her son, who is with a group of Native Americans six miles away, then arrives, as his Native American captors and some of the Native Americans in Mrs. Rowlandson's group join forces to attack Medfield. His dame brought him to see Mrs. Rowlandson during his master's absence. The Native Americans later return from Medfield, shouting and rejoicing over the number they have killed and carrying English scalps. One of them offers Mrs. Rowlandson a Bible he has plundered, which she accepts. She finds comfort in a passage of scripture which tells of the Lord's gathering together scattered people and laying curses upon their enemies (Chapter 30 of Deuteronomy).

With a remove in the near future, Mrs. Rowlandson says goodbye to the eight English children and one English woman, Goodwife Joslin, captive in this place. She takes comfort in their faith in God. Using a psalm in the Bible, she urges the woman, who will soon give birth and who has an infant besides, not to carry out her plan to run away.

The Fourth Remove

Mrs. Rowlandson says goodbye to what "little company she had," including her daughter Mary, whom she does not see until their reunion after captivity. Goodwife Joslin asks the Native Americans to let her go home too many times, so they strip her, sing and dance around her, knock her and her child on the head, and burn the two of them. The children say the woman did not cry but only prayed throughout. The Native Americans threaten to do the same to the children if they try to go home.

The group travels half a day to a snowy spot in the forest. Mrs. Rowlandson worries about her children and feels very physically weak. She finds strength in scripture. They stay in this place for four days.


Rowlandson continues to depict Native Americans vaguely and one-dimensionally. After weeks of time with them, she has given little to no description of her material surroundings, of the specific structure of the tribe, of Quinopin's character, of their knowledge or lack thereof of English, or of how they behave towards each other. By and large, she only offers details when she paints the Native Americans as evil heathens through stories of their scalping the English or stripping, killing, and burning the pregnant woman. 

Her strong prejudicial bias is especially evident in her negative or providential framing of any acts of potential kindness. When directed to go to a separate wigwam when her daughter was nearing her final hours, she comments, "I suppose because they would not be troubled with such spectacles." She complains of having been separated from her dead daughter, when the Native Americans buried her daughter during this separation and then took her to see the burial site. When a Native American woman takes Rowlandson's son to see her, and when a Native American fighter offers her a Bible, Rowlandson does not attribute these kindnesses to them. Instead, she calls them acts of divine providence. 

Rowlandson's bias is most problematic when it affects the events she reports as fact. Recall that in The First Remove she blames "Praying Indians" for participating in an attack for which they had been exonerated. In The Third Remove she claims that she and her daughter were given no food from Wednesday night to Saturday night. However, she later reveals that they were offered at minimum a small piece of food, which neither she nor her daughter ate. Such misrepresentations call into question the accuracy of other events she recounts of the Native Americans' cruelty. For example, it is hard to discern the accuracy of her account of the brutal stripping, killing, and burning of the Christian English pregnant woman who wanted to go home.  

In falsely claiming that "Praying Indians" were partially culpable for an earlier attack, and in reporting her daughter Mary as having been sold by a "Praying Indian" for a gun, Mrs. Rowlandson builds a body of evidence against them. In so doing, she expresses the idea that converting Native Americans to Christianity does not change their fundamentally brutal natures, which missionaries and others would disagree with. This view means that Mrs. Rowlandson's prejudice is not merely religious, but also, if not more importantly, racial.

Some of the passages of scripture which Mrs. Rowlandson find most comforting are those which appear to her to directly parallel her situation. The parallels she draws cast her and her fellow captives as God's chosen and casts the Native Americans as "the Enemy" not only in her eyes but also in the eyes of God. As Mrs. Rowlandson has the opportunity to repent for having missed Sabbaths and to delve into scripture, her sense of superiority and specialness seems only to grow. She views herself as a figure not dissimilar from those in the Bible and as a person who receives an unusually large demonstration of God's power in her life. In this sense, she not only casts English Christians as superior to Native Americans, but also seems to view herself as special among her pious peers.