5/19/2011

Her Father's Daughter - Gene Stratton-Porter

     I expected to like this book. After all it’s by the same person who wrote Freckles! =) And it was written well, in the same warm, old-fashioned style that Freckles was. But it seemed to me that a whole lot of it just didn’t ring true.
   

    The heroine, Linda, is a likable girl with the same sort of endearing personality and values as the characters in Freckles, and A Girl of the Limberlost. But from the very beginning of the book she is upset that a Japanese is at the head of her high-school’s senior class. In her mind, this is something all Americans ought to be thoroughly ashamed of, and she has no problem with soundly scolding Donald Whiting, the boy she feels ought to be leading the class, for allowing “the Jap” to win.
    Throughout the book, she argues, coaxes, and encourages Donald until he, rather than the Jap is head of the class. She also voices her beliefs that the Japanese have no ability, past being able to imitate what the white man has done, and that the Japanese are trying to defeat civilization, but the white man must stay on top. And so on!
    In the end, it comes to light that Oka Sayye, (“the Jap”) is really not a highschooler at all, but a man of nearly thirty, who is simply taking advantage of Americans and their superior education in order to defeat them. When Oka Sayye realizes he cannot beat Donald, he settles for attempting to kill him. While Linda and Donald are on a picnic in the woods, he shoves a boulder over a cliff to where they sit below, but he only succeeds in smashing Donald’s foot. Linda, as well as her trusty cook/companion Katy, climb up to investigate, and in the process are obliged to push Oka Sayye over the edge, and he is never heard of again.
   
   
    So. Yeah. Not only was it a stupid plot, it also came from a racist perspective, that I didn’t like at all. I got a good dose of old-fashioned racism along with good old-fashioned values, and the author painted them as the same things, which is just not true. I certainly hope Americans don’t view hating Japanese or any other race as patriotic, the way some apparently did in 1921 when this book was published.
    In conclusion, I still like Freckles, and I think Gene Stratton-Porter is a good author, but I was very disappointed with Her Father’s Daughter. I don’t ever agree with racism, and it made this book very ugly where it should have been the opposite.

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