THE DOUBLE LIFE OF POCAHONTAS by Jean Fritz
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THE DOUBLE LIFE OF POCAHONTAS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

What, one might wonder, does Fritz see in the hackneyed subject of Pocahontas? As the title suggests (and the text handles delicately): a young girl who believed herself bound to John Smith by Powhatan's adoption of him, and so also felt herself part of his Jamestown world. There is conjecture here, but Fritz faces it squarely--citing Pocahontas' young age (probably eleven) when she acted as his "sponsor," noting that Smith would have had every reason to humor her. Slipping back and forth from Pocahontas' and Powhatan's perspective to Smith's, and portraying Powhatan as Smith's equal in guile, Fritz also suggests that Pocahontas' intervention might have been prearranged: an intriguing thought. Much later, after John Smith's departure, when the English are killing wantonly and Powhatan is beleaguered, Pocahontas is captured and Powhatan replies to ransom demands with a pretext she scorns no less than the English. "Seven broken muskets! Was that all she was worth? She knew her father loved his guns, but did he love them more than he did her?" And then, ringing in the charming, plaintive phrase Pocahontas learned as a girl from the English, Fritz has her lament: "Did he mean to let her stay here forever, always walking with small steps, speaking the sharp English speech like twigs snapping. Love you not me? Love you not me?" So she gives in, accepts Christianity, and marries John Rolfe--who had "decided it was God's will." (In parentheses: "He had already found out that it was Pocahontas' will too.") Buoyant and affecting.
Pub Date: Oct. 28th, 1983
ISBN: 0399210164
Page count: 104pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1983




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