Masterpieces of American Literature
Unit 1- Assignment 1
As suggested in Unit One Commentary, quest heroes “arriv[e] at their destination fundamentally changed and in possession of new knowledge and understanding.” Often this “destination” is back where s/he started (say as in Homer’s The Odyssey as with Rowlandson); generally such “knowledge and understanding” is “heroic” in that it contributes to the well being of the “quester’s” culture.
For this first paper I’d like you to write a “casual” but definitely “opinionated” response of at least (=approx. 500 words), arguing whether or not Rowlandson “qualifies” as a quest “hero.” Does she return from her ordeal with important/useful knowledge for her culture of “English” settlers? Why or why not?
Generally writing about literature involves taking some kind of persuasive stance, and that’s just what I’m asking you to do here. Basing your persuasion on specific evidence from Rowlandson’s Narrative, make your case for or against such a “heroic” view of Rowlandson. This will probably involve some sort of assessment of the value of her newfound learning. (It MIGHT also involve some speculation about why this text was such a “best-seller.”) Does Handsome Lake’s perspective affect your opinion of Mary Rowlandson?