The Land (Mildred D. Taylor)


The Land (Mildred D. Taylor)

"The Land" is the ninth book by Mildred D. Taylor. It recounts the life of her great-grandfather as he grows from a nine year old boy into a man in his mid-twenties.

Plot Synopsis

"The Land" follows the life of Paul-Edward Logan. Paul was the child of a white man and a black woman. Paul had three half-brothers, born to the same father as Paul, but with a white mother. Paul’s older sister of six years had the same father and mother as Paul. The book is divided into two parts: Childhood and Manhood, each containing five chapters. The dialogue uses the Southern dialect of the 1870s and ‘80s. The book starts with Paul in his ninth year. It describes how his life has been different from that of most freed slaves. The book is also written from Paul’s perspective, and quickly introduces his three brothers, his sister, and Mitchell, who became a vital member of the storyline. In the beginning, Mitchell would continually beat upon and bully Paul, whose father and brothers mostly said to “use your head” and come up with a solution on his own. After several months, Paul is able to make deal with Mitchell. If Paul taught Mitchell to “read, write and figure,” then Mitchell was to teach Paul how to fight, but reminded Paul often that “I can’t teach you how to win.”

After a few years, Paul and Mitchell were no longer enemies, but were not quite friends yet. At this time, they were both taking care of Paul’s father’s horses when Mitchell rode a horse and injured its leg. When Paul took the blame, he started a life long friendship. After this incident, Mitchell stood up for Paul when other black boys would pick on him, and Paul helped keep Mitchell out of trouble with both of their parents. After a few more years, when Paul was fourteen, Paul and Mitchell ran away during an out of state horse show in Eastern Texas, because Paul went against his fathers word and rode a mans horse and won "four times a riders pay." They mainly ran because Mitchell used violent force to ensure that a white man kept his word and paid Paul the money he had earned. The book then hints about what happened next, and later tells what happened during the eleven year gap between part one and part two.

the lumber camp, and travel until they decide to travel separately to avoid drawing attention. While they are separated, Mitchell goes to more lumber camps, while Paul finds the land that he decides he will own one day in Vicksburg. Two starts in the middle of Paul and Mitchell’s contract with a lumber camp. The book then goes on to describe life in different types of work camps. The story follows Paul and Mitchell as they leave months, Paul worked at a general store and as a woodworker in a small town. The man he worked for was named Luke Sawyer.

Eventually Paul and Mitchell meet a man by the name of Fillmore Granger and make a deal to work for the possession of forty acres. It was not the land that Paul had seen earlier, but it was to be the first step to getting two-hundred acres. If they could finish chopping down all the trees big enough for a lumber company within an allotted time, then the land was Paul and Mitchell’s.

After a few months of working hard at the forty acres, Paul realized that he needed the help of some hired hands. One hired hand was a man named Tom Bee, who Mitchell worked with before in a camp. The other hired hands were a white boy that Paul had met before, a young black boy who later ended up being Paul's brother-in-law, and a black man named Horace Avery . Also, for a while, a white boy named Wade Jamison helped out. One day a drunken white man both shot Mitchell and Paul’s horse, Thunder. A tree then falls on Mitchell as he stumbles under it. Mitchell died the next day. Before he died, he told Paul to marry his wife Caroline, and to take care of her upcoming child.

Later that year, the forty was almost worked off and should have been in Paul’s possession soon, even with all of the extra conditions that Granger added to thedeal in an attempt to keep his land. When Granger decides to not let Paul have the forty because he accidentilly cut a few trees outside the perimeter,Paul unexpectedly meets one of his brothers, Robert, who was looking for him. His brother tells Paul of how the rest of the family was doing, and gives Paul a letter from their sister. Enclosed in the letter is enough money to pay for the two-hundred acres that Paul originally wanted. Paul’s sister explained in her letter that their mother owned the patch of land that they lived on as children, and that ten years after their mother’s death, she sold the land to their father who paid $500, which all of them knew was much more than it was worth. This combined with his sister’s savings made more than enough money to pay for J.T. Hollenbeck’s land. From here, Paul purchased the land, moved onto it, and lived a wonderful life after.


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