Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mine Eyes Have Seen

Rinaldi, Ann. 1998. MINE EYES HAVE SEEN.

MINE EYES HAVE SEEN is a fictional portrayal of an historical event. In the summer of 1859, our heroine Annie Brown makes her way south with her sister-in-law to visit her father, John Brown, who under the name of Isaac Smith, has taken up residence near Harpers Ferry. Annie is fifteen, in love with life, and completely unsure about the sanity of her father. Annie has a love/hate relationship with this power-hungry, irrational abusive man. As do many of her brothers and sisters. Posted as watchdog, Annie provides readers an inside look into a dark period in American history.

Here is what the author's note has to say:

Fifteen years old in 1859, Annie came down from the Brown place in North elba, New York, with her seventeen-year-old sister-in-law, Martha, to help keep house for the Provisional Army and to make life at the Kennedy farm appear normal. She was assigned the task of "watchdog"--keeping watch on the porch for approaching strangers. The farm-house was soon full of men, eighteen in all (one arrived right before Annie and Martha left, two after). It was Annie's job to keep the men from running off, warn the inhabitants of the house when a stranger was approaching, and generally keep curious eyes at bay. John Brown could not have it known that so many men were living at the farmhouse, that he was receiving and storing arms there, and that some of the men were Negro. So Annie had her work cut out for her. Indeed, in some of the books on John Brown there are excerpts of Annie's account of life on the farm that summer. From these accounts, written by Annie in her later years when she was Mrs. Annie Brown Adams, I learned the nucleus of facts about that summer in Maryland, her description of some of the men, her chores, the newspapers her father subscribed to, the dog Cuffee, the description of the house, and, of course Mrs. Huffmaster.

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