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Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title The Land

author Mildred D. Taylor

type of work Novel

genre Historical fiction, young adult novel, African-American fiction

language English

time and place written Late 1990s, Colorado

date of first publication 2001

publisher Phyllis Fogelman

narrator Paul-Edward Logan

point of view The narrator speaks in the first person, and he tells the story of his youth from an adult perspective. His perspective is subjective, and he only narrates his own observations of other characters' emotions or motivations.

tone Paul narrates his story as though he is handing down family history—honestly but with obvious passion for his subject matter.

tense Past

setting (time) Post-Civil War era

setting (place) Georgia, Texas, and Mississippi

protagonist Paul-Edward Logan

major conflict Paul, the son of a white landowner and his black mistress, is estranged from his family and possessed by a singular desire to own several hundred acres of land. He struggles to purchase the land, hindered by a racist social structure in postbellum south.

rising action After suffering several setbacks, Paul, with the help of his friend Mitchell, finally manages to finance a deal on the 200 acres of land he wants. However, an angry poor white man shoots Mitchell and Paul's horse, leaving Paul with almost no means to meet his payments on the land.

climax Paul's estranged white brother appears with an envelope from Paul's black sister, Cassie. Inside is his mother's bequeathal: enough money to pay for the land.

falling action Paul proposes to his sweetheart, Caroline, and moves with her to his hard-won land.

themes The nature of kinship; passive methods of fighting oppression; the intersection of class and racial oppression

motifs Loyalty; haggling; naming, unnaming, renaming; reading and writing

symbols Horses; land; the rocking chair

foreshadowing Paul's defense of Mitchell foreshadows Robert's betrayal of Paul; the presence of the two white boys on the forty acres foreshadows trouble for the black men