A Failed Uncle Tomâs Cabin for the Indian Helen Hunt Jacksonâs Ramona and the Power of Paratext Kimberly E. Armstrong In an 1883 letter to her publisher about her novel-in-progress, Ramona, Helen Hunt Jackson famously stated that she wished the 1884 novel âwould do for the Indian a thousandth part what âUncle Tomâs Cabinâ did for the Negroâ (qtd. in Marsden 17). Though the novel was widely read and highly successful, selling more than ten thousand copies in its first ten years of printing, it did not have the lasting cultural impact of Uncle Tomâs Cabin as a protest novel (Tebbel 281). By the 1930s the novel had inspired four film adaptations, a yearly festival, many school and town names, and many other books. Yet by the 1950s the novel was little read. Instead of cultural change, Ramonaâs long-term cultural legacy was the creation of a tourist destination and a best seller, which actively worked against the stated protest message, drawing greater and greater numbers of tourists and settlers to the sites of the novel rather than returning those sites to the Native Americans whom Jackson aimed to help. In recent decades literary scholarship has often focused on
Western American Literature – The Western Literature Association
Published: Aug 16, 2017
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