Monday, March 1, 2010

Historical Literature

Title: Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison
Author and Illustrator: Lois Lenski
Publisher: HarperTrophy
Copyright: 1941
Grade Level: 4th - 6th


This book is based on actual events.

During the French and Indian War, the Jemison family was captured by Seneca Indians in her Pennsylvania home.  After journeying a great distance, Mary and one of her brothers were separated from the rest of the family.  Mary continued to travel toward Ohio and, later, New York.  Mary missed her family and was unused to the Seneca culture.  Mary was eventually adopted by the Seneca, but she had several chances to leave their way of life forever.


I read this book when I was in fifth grade.  It left such an impression on me.  I was a historical fiction fan when I was younger, and when I ran across this book in Books-A-Million I had to buy it for nostalgic purposes. 

Historical fiction can be tricky, especially when the content is about Indian captives.  For instance, Mary Rowlandson wrote an account of her time as an Indian captive.  Granted, the account was written in the late 1600s by the actual captive, but the text is so one-sided and paints a First Nation tribe as completely savage and inhumane.  There are other texts out there that paint First Nation tribes in an idealistic light; Lenski's story does tend to praise the culture and actions of the Indians.  But, Lenski did research Jemison's story thoroughly.  I believe she captured the essence of the language very well.

One might want to use this novel when comparing and contrasting the narratives or fictional accounts of Indian captives.  This might be more of an American literature or college course assignment though.

No comments:

Post a Comment