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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   

7. Slavery and

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•  Using the Video
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Activities: Author Activities

Helen Hunt Jackson - Teaching Tips

Back Back to Helen Hunt Jackson Activities
  • Jackson consciously modeled Ramona after Uncle Tom's Cabin; she hoped to "do one-hundredth part for the Indian as Mrs. Stowe did for the Negro" and later referred to herself as an "Indian Harriet Beecher Stowe." Ask students to think about the relationship between the two novels and the similarities of their goals for social reform. Ask them to consider why Jackson would have chosen Stowe as a model when her crusade for Indian rights seemed to be stalling. You might also ask students to research what social reforms were enacted around the time of Ramona's publication. Ask them to consider why Ramona was not as effective a piece of social propaganda as Uncle Tom's Cabin.

  • Ramona depicts Spanish rule in California in romantic and nostalgic terms; it is mainly the encroaching white Americans who are characterized as greedy and cruel (perhaps to arouse the consciences of Jackson's white American readers). Ask students to think about Lorenzo Asisara's narrative of Indian life in the Spanish missions as they read Ramona. Ask them why Jackson would have ignored evidence that the Spanish system was often as unjust and exploitative as American policies were.

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