Ramona: A Story, Volumes 1-2

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Little, Brown, 1900 - 308 pages
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Ramona, half Indian and half Scot and raised by a wealthy Mexican ranch family as a devout Catholic, marries a Catholic, full-blooded Indian. The story shows the decline of the Indian at the hands of the white man. Her husband is killed for stealing a white man's horse, and Ramona goes into a deep decline. Felipe, Ramona's foster brother, finds her and returns her to the ranch. When the white man begins to take land away from the Mexican ranchers, Felipe and Ramona return to Mexico and wed.

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Ramona is an orphan girl who lives on the rancho of the widow Seņora Gonzaga Moreno in Southern California, shortly after the Mexican-American War. Her father, Angus Phail, was a Scottish merchant who was betrothed to Senora Moreno’s older sister, also named Ramona, but was instead married to an Indian woman by a priest in the San Gabriel Mission, and Senorita Ramona then married Don Ortegna. But several years later, after his wife had left him, Angus, who was then dying, brought his baby girl to be raised by his ex-fiancee, and when she died, the girl was left to the care of Senora Moreno, who provided for her but never loved her because of Ramona’s mixed Native American heritage.
Senora Moreno’s only son Felipe does love Ramona. However, she falls in love with the San Luis Indian from the village of Temecula, Alessandro Assis, who heads the sheepshearers. Unfortunately a Moreno serving girl Margarita also loves Alessandro and causes trouble. When Alessandro asks Ramona to run away with him, Senora Moreno becomes very angry. What will happen to Ramona? Originally serialized in The Christian Union on a weekly basis, Ramona is considered as one of the greatest ethical novels of the nineteenth century, doing for Native Americans what Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stow did for slaves. Mrs. Jackson had previously written a non-fiction work, A Century of Dishonor, in support of Indians but sought to touch people’s emotions by a novel. The story is fictional, but many of the details are based on various true events. Obviously, the book is very pro-Indian rights, but while there are always two sides to every story, it is certainly important that we be aware of how white people and even our government often mistreated Native Americans.
Ramona is written in the form of a romance that would be most appealing to teenage girls and women. Yet, there is also a degree of exciting adventure, and positively, from a historical standpoint, the powerful narrative accurately depicts the life of the fading Spanish order of Old California. Negatively, some have accused the author of being pro-Catholic, but it can be argued that the many references to Catholic beliefs and practices are natural since the Spanish and Mexicans of the Southwest were indeed Catholic. A few references to smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol do occur. The terms “Christ,” “My God, “Good God,” “By God,” “O God,” and “Good Lord” are all used in ways that are sometimes difficult to determine whether they are being said reverently or just as exclamations. The “d” word is found about four times, almost always in quotations from “bad guys” referring to Indians. If one is interested in reading about the brutal intrusion of white settlers in California, the oppression of tribal American communities, and the problem of racial discrimination, this book will fill the bill.




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Page 276 - They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
Page 98 - ... the most part they would sleep rolled up in their blankets, on the ground. There was a brisk wind, and the gay-colored wings of the windmill blew furiously round and round, pumping out into the tank below a stream of water so swift and strong, that as the men crowded around, wetting and sharpening their knives, they got well spattered, and had much merriment, pushing and elbowing each other into the spray. A high four-posted frame stood close to the shed ; in this, swung from the four corners,...
Page 79 - As the grand old Russian says, what men usually ask for, when they pray to God, is, that two and two may not make four.
Page 66 - The stems are so infinitesimally small and of so dark a green, that at a short distance they do not show, and the cloud of blossom seems floating in the air; at times it looks like golden dust. With a clear blue sky behind it, as it is often seen, it looks like a golden snow-storm. The plant is a tyrant and a nuisance — the terror of the farmer; it takes riotous possession of a whole field in a season; once in, never out ; for one plant this year, a million the next ; but it is impossible to wish...
Page 23 - Moreno's house was one of the best specimens to be found in California of the representative house of the half barbaric, half elegant, wholly generous and free-handed life led there by Mexican men and women of degree in the early part of this century, under the rule of the Spanish and Mexican viceroys . . . when ... its old name, "New Spain" was an ever-present link and stimulus to the warmest memories and deepest patriotisms of its people.
Page xxx - I cannot find her type : in her were blent Each varied and each fortunate element Which souls combine, with something all her own Sadness and mirthfulness, a chorded strain, The tender heart, the keen and searching brain, The social zest, the power to live alone.
Page 27 - That the heretics may know, when they go by, that they are on the estate of a good Catholic," she said, " and that the faithful may be reminded to pray. There have been miracles of conversion wrought on the most hardened by a sudden sight of the Blessed Cross." There they stood, summer and winter, rain and shine, the silent, solemn, outstretched arms, and became landmarks to many a guideless traveller who had been told that his way would be by the first turn to the left or the right, after passing...
Page xxv - Ramona's beauty was of the sort to be best enhanced by the waving gold which now framed her face. She had just enough of olive tint in her complexion to underlie and enrich her skin without making it swarthy. Her hair was like her Indian mother's, heavy and black, but her eyes were like her father's, steel-blue.
Page 30 - Between the veranda and the river meadows, out on which it looked, all was garden, orange grove, and almond orchard; the orange grove always green, never without snowy bloom or golden fruit; the garden never without flowers, summer or winter; and the almond orchard, in early spring, a fluttering canopy of pink and white petals, which, seen from the hills on the opposite side of the river, looked as if rosy sunrise clouds had fallen, and become tangled in the tree-tops.
Page 65 - The billowy hills on either side the valley were covered with verdure and bloom,—myriads of low blossoming plants, so close to the earth that their tints lapped and overlapped on each other, and on the green of the grass, as feathers in fine plumage overlap each other and blend into a changeful color. The countless curves, hollows, and crests of the coast-hills in Southern California heighten these chameleon effects of the spring verdure; they are like nothing in nature except the glitter of a...

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