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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Book Review || Ramona, by Helen Hunt Jackson

Review of
Helen Hunt Jackson
Date Published: 1884
My Rating: 5/5
My Review:
Read from January 03 to 10, 2014

Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson is a book that was assigned to me for school to write an analysis paper on. When I read the description of the book, I thought it was intriguing and was eager to start it. The first chapter or two are somewhat slow, but once you really read the story and immerse yourself in the vivid descriptions and beautiful word usage, you can absolutely picture yourself in the landscapes described so wonderfully by Jackson.

This tale follows a girl of nineteen named Ramona, who lives on the estate of a woman called the Senora Moreno, whose husband died and whose son, Felipe, is weakened by illness. The beginning of the book sets the story in the Moreno estate, in Southern California, at sheep-shearing time. Felipe was ill and the shearing had to be put off until he was stronger, something which greatly annoyed him. Though Felipe was the man of the house, the Senora runs the place and sees to it that everything works smoothly. A man named Alessandro comes with his sheep-shearing group to assist in the work, and Felipe is supposed to rest while it is done. Instead, he decides to help, and becomes weaker, and Alessandro decides to stay until he is well. Ramona, the main character of the story, is a half-Indian girl whose father had entrusted her care to his former lover, a woman named Ramona Ortegna. When Senora Ortegna died, little Ramona was sent to live with Senora Ortegna's sister, the Senora Moreno, where she has lived for fourteen years. During Alessandro's stay, Ramona at first believed Alessandro loves a maid girl named Margarita, and so avoided him. Many of the people at the ranch were convinced she was in love with Felipe, and she thought so of herself. The longer that Alessandro stayed with them, however, the more Ramona realized that he loved her, and she began to feel amorously towards him as well. The book is mostly centered around Ramona and Alessandro; and I will leave off any more description in order to prevent spoilers. Know also that this story is also majorly about social injustices towards Indians. The rest of this review will be my opinion and afterthoughts on the story...will contain spoilers.

I absolutely recommend this book.

--Spoilers follow. Read with caution.--

I was rooting for Felipe in the beginning, as Ramona's lover, that is; but when he began to plot to help Ramona run off and marry Alessandro, I was very disappointed. Alessandro was an excellent character and husband, but to me, Felipe knew Ramona the best and probably loved her more than any one could love her. The ending was great, to me. I was really happy about that.

There were two horrible tragedies in this story - the death of Ramona's first baby, and the murder of Alessandro. I'm not sure which of these I was more upset about. Alessandro's death was such a shock to me, while the baby's was somewhat obvious and it seemed unavoidable. However, both of these events were sad and it really drove the story's message about the injustices done to Indians in those days (I believe it was the 19th century - I don't recall if it was really mentioned when it was, but it seemed like 19th century).

I don't really understand the complete hatred and animosity of the Senora Moreno. She was very hateful towards Ramona. It seems like, if she had allowed Ramona to marry Alessandro, and had given them her blessing, the two of them may have left anyway, and she would have been free of Ramona, whom she considered a burden and a nuisance.

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