John Demos' book, The Unredeemed Captive, brings further evidence of the importance of religion in the lives of the colonists in early America. He makes numerous references to that fact as he describes the faith they rely on during times of grief, despair, and in the very way they live their lives. As the story of the Williams family unravels, their unwavering faith in their religion is apparent. The theme of this story is ironically the faith that held the Williams family together, would keep them apart.
Demos does an excellent job of presenting the meaning of faith and religion in colonial Massachusetts. He describes the English Puritans as unhappy with the established church in England, and they came to Deerfield, Massachusetts to settle the wilderness and to reform the savages that lived there. The settlers will confront disease, drought, war, weather and even death, armed many times with only their faith in God. The very reason that they have come to this land is their religious beliefs and that would be the fiber that held them together.
John Williams was the religious and spiritual leader of the Deerfield community at this time. The depth of his religious commitment is described in the events of his life, his captivity following the Deerfield Massacre, and after his release. As Williams and other Deerfield captives are marched north to Canada, he is referred to as the emotional leader of the group. The extreme weather, the execution of children and neighbors, and the physically grueling march north, provided for conditions of great emotional and physical stress. Through it al the captives would turn to Williams for strength guidance and prayer to pull them through.
Williams personal faith is also well described in the events surrounding the death of his wife and the separation of his children from him during the captives journey north. During the journey his wife, whose physical condition is already weakened from a recent child birth, falls during the crossing of a river.