After colonist Mary Rowlandson was captured by Native Americans during King Philip's War, food and labor came to represent her fraught position between Native American and colonial worlds. Rowlandson learned to eat previously disgusting foods, but she also tried to convince readers that she preferred non-Native commodities. If she described her tastes as an odd mix between Indian and English, however, she depicted her eating as Indian. Rowlandson's approach to labor proved similarly motley. Her manufacture of English-style clothing identified her definitively as an Englishwoman, and her inconsistent approach to work meant that she frequently went without food. Rowlandson's unwillingness to work illuminates different English and Indian attitudes regarding gender. Throughout the war, colonists and Natives toiled to maintain food supplies and targeted foodstuffs as a military strategy. People used food to communicate with each other in ways that ultimately solidified the gap between Native and non-Native in colonial America.
1 May 2015
Rachel B. Herrmann; “Their Filthy Trash”: Taste, Eating, and Work in Mary Rowlandson's Captivity Narrative. Labor 1 May 2015; 12 (1-2): 45–70. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15476715-2837496
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