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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
•  Authors
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•  Activities
- Overview Questions
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- Author
- Context
- Creative Response
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Activities: Author Activities

Helen Hunt Jackson - Author Questions

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  1. Comprehension: How does Ramona challenge stereotypes nineteenth-century Americans held about Native Americans? About Spanish settlers in California? How does the novel play into common stereotypes?

  2. Context: Ramona is portrayed as the product of two cultures: European and Native American. How does she compare with the figure of the "tragic mulatta" (see the "Beyond the Pale" extended context later in this unit)? How does the resolution of Ramona's fate at the end of the novel undercut the message of Indian equality and the call for reform?

  3. Exploration: Like Harriet Beecher Stowe, Helen Hunt Jackson claimed that her social reform novel was the result of something akin to divine inspiration; she insisted, "I did not write Ramona. It was written through me." What is at stake in this kind of denial of authorship? Why might it have served Stowe's and Jackson's purposes? How might their status as women writers and social activists have informed their claims to divine inspiration?

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