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Captivity Narrative

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Account of kidnapping by Indians of white persons, usually women, taken by long journeys into the wilderness. The tale of Mary Rowlandson (1682), the earliest example, is representative of New England colonial texts concentrating on the Indians as sons of the Devil removing a daughter of Zion into Satan's lands, often considering it a judgment or test of the Lord. Later accounts, like that of John Williams (1707), telling of the seizure of a man, represent an 18th-century shift to a political point of view in presenting the French allies of the Indians as evil in trying to convert a captive to Catholicism. The genre passed into fiction with Ann Bleecker (1797). In the 19th century the popular account about Mary Jemison (1824) sentimentalized a white woman's romantically happy adjustment to primitive life. Later narratives were like melodramatic penny dreadfuls, as in R. B. Stratton's The Captivity of the Oatman Girls (1857), dealing with Far Western Indians.

Subjects: Literature

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