The Sovereignty and Goodness of God

The Sovereignty and Goodness of God Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Biblical Journey (Allegory)

Throughout her narrative, Rowlandson uses the journeys of Biblical figures as allegories for the experiences of herself and the English more broadly. Just as in the Bible, God afflicts His chosen people, in this case the English and Mrs. Rowlandson, for straying from His ways so they learn to become fully dependent on Him and find redemption.

Unappealing Food (Motif)

As Mrs. Rowlandson spends more time in captivity, she gets hungrier and adapts to her circumstances. She frequently thanks the Lord for making delicious the food she once would have considered inedible, such as the horse foot she stole from a child. Unappealing food shows the distance growing between her life with the Native Americans and her life as a high-status English woman. She is adapting to her surroundings, intermittently lapsing into animal-like behavior, and constantly grateful for the providence of God. 

Starvation (Motif)

While Rowlandson sometimes finds strength in the Lord while starving, on the whole she cannot keep her spirits up in the face of starvation even when she learns she will be soon redeemed from captivity. Starvation also drives her to beg from Native Americans she doesn't know, to eat bloody liver, and to steal food from an English child. As such, the motif of starvation demonstrates how spiritual growth or superiority can be diminished by physical constraints. 

Mrs. Rowlandson's Apron (Symbol)

In her apron, Mrs. Rowlandson keeps her Bible, food, sewing tools, and possibly other objects. As the Bible gives her strength and the sewing tools give her a tradeable skill, the apron functions as a survival kit. It also serves as a physical reminder and symbol of her English identity. Its importance explains why Mrs. Rowlandson so violently refuses to give up a piece of it to King Philip's maid.  

The Baquaug River (Symbol)

The group crosses the Baquaug river in the fifth and sixteenth removes. In the fifth remove, the Native Americans successfully cross the river just before the English arrive, and the English are prevented from continuing by the river. Rowlandson views this incident as "the strange providence of God in preserving the heathen." As such, the river functions as a symbol of God's influence on King Philip's War.

It also functions as a symbol of Mrs. Rowlandson's persistent faith in the face of good and bad fortune. She cites the same Bible passage both when she crosses the river and does not wet her feet, as well as when she has to wade knee-deep through the cold waters: "When thou passeth through the waters I will be with thee, and through the rivers they shall not overflow thee, Isai. 43.2."