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“There is talk of the men setting off on a second exploration. I wish I were a man. I wish I were a bird. I wish I were a whale. Anything to get off this ship,” Remember. –A Journey to the New World
A Journey to the New World: The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple
by Kathryn Lasky
In 1620, twelve-year-old Remember Patience Whipple and her family set off for the New World. The 65-day journey on the Mayflower is difficult and boring. Remember writes about the journey in her diary, which she calls Mim.
One hundred and two people, including 34 children, were crammed into a dark, cold cargo deck. With no privacy and no way to escape from others, there was plenty of drama. When the ship spotted land, the passengers were disappointed to discover they were in the wrong place. Despite this, the men decided to find a place to build their settlement.
Because they arrived during winter, the passengers were forced to continue living on the ship. However, Patience and the other Pilgrims were excited to begin building the settlement even though they now faced harsh weather, lack of food, and an attack by “feathered men.” To make matters worse, half of the passengers die in the first winter. Through all of this, Remember remains hopeful that life in the New World will have many opportunities.
As Remember writes a detailed chronicle of her journey, readers will get a firsthand account of a Pilgrim’s life. While much of Remember’s diary is interesting, some of the entries are redundant. When the group arrives in the New World, many people die including Remember’s mother. Soon after, the widow, Hannah Potts, begins helping Remember’s family, which is confusing for Remember.
Some of the most interesting diary entries are about the “feathered men.” Remember is fascinated by them and is excited when she finally has an opportunity to meet an Indian. Remember’s curiosity and enthusiasm are remarkable and her changing views are interesting. Throughout her story, Remember always gives thanks to God. In her last diary entry, she wrote, “I have after all learned to plant a seed in a hole and bring up corn. I have learned how to beat a stream in the moonlight till it gives forth eels for our cooking pots. I have learned many words in the strange tongue of the Wampanoag.”
Remember’s spirit is amazing, as is her willingness to try new things. However, readers who are used to stories with lots of action and adventure will find Remember’s diary difficult to finish. Remember’s diary allows readers to understand her day-to day-life. However, readers will be unable to make an emotional connection to the other passengers. And much like our own lives, Remember’s daily life lacks much excitement. A Journey to the New World would be perfect for research and for readers who are inherently interested in this time period.
- During dinner, Elder Brewster tells his son about his friends that were “killed by the Bishops for wanting to make the church pure. . . They were first thrown in jail for a long long time and left in filth and half starved to rot. Then they were brought out to be hanged. . . Just when they had a few breaths of life still in them, they were cut down. Their bellies were cut open, their guts drawn out and burning coals put in their bowels!”
- The Billington boys “tried to drown the ship’s cat in a barrel of water.”
- The Billington boys almost blew up the ship. “They have now been thrashed within an inch of their lives, this time by their own father.”
- When the men went onto the shore, “arrows suddenly came raining down upon them. . . Captain Standish held off the feathered men with his flintlock musket.” The Indians finally run away.
Drugs and Alcohol
- When a boy is sick, he is given “some of the draught.”
- After a woman’s husband and baby die, she is given “a very strong sleeping draught.”
- When an Indian who speaks English appears in the settlement, the men are shocked. The Indian asks for “beer and biscuits, but they gave him strong water instead” and a boy was sent to get the “liquor bottle.”
- When the men go on a fishing expedition, one of them “spent most of his time drinking beer and basking in this October sunshine.”
- Remember calls the Billington boys, “scummy little bilge rats!”
- Remember calls one of the girls, “Air Nose.”
- The Saints wanted to go to the New World. Remember wrote, “And if we go to this New World, free from Old King James and all the fancy church rituals that are not our way, we can worship as we want. You see, we believe that the church is in our hearts and not in a building.”
- In her diary, Remember often thanks God and writes little prayers. For example, when she feels sea-sick she prays, “Please, dear Lord, I do not want to get the scours and it is not for my vanity. . . ‘tis for my petticoats.”
- The ship’s beam is broken and the men are able to fix it. Remember writes, “God’s providence has come down on our little ship. The main beam is raised and repaired. We are blessed. Last evening we assembled for prayers of thanks.”
- Not everyone on the ship gets along, but Remember writes “we are all God’s children.”
- When Remember’s friend dies, she writes, “Mem, he now be in heaven and his eyes doth reflect the glory of the Lord, and he sits with his mother once again.”
- When the Pilgrims get to the New World, they find corn. “They took as much corn as they could and thanked God for the providence bestowed upon them.”
- Remember’s sister loves helping with the plastering of their new cabin. “The Lord does work in mysterious and beautiful ways. . .”