Summary (Masterplots II: African American Literature, Revised Edition)
The Land, which chronicles the coming-of-age of Paul-Edward Logan, is a prequel to Mildred D. Taylor’s award-winning novel Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1976). Paul narrates his own story, which unfolds not only as an indictment of race relations in post-Civil War Mississippi but also as an inspiring tale of the search for identity and human validation through the struggle to own “the land.” The land (a choice piece of meadowland that is dear to the narrator’s heart) comes to represent much more than mere earth and farm—it becomes a metaphor for Paul’s metamorphosis into a man, an equal, and a self-realized human being who has come to terms with the reality of his life but who remains undaunted by it.
From the beginning, Paul must grapple with the nature of his birth: He is the son of Edward Logan, a former slaveholder who fathered two multiracial children. Moreover, Paul’s mother, Deborah, loves Edward and willingly stays with him. Logan treats his children by Deborah as equitably as his social standing will allow, but Paul bristles at the partiality Edward shows to his white sons when the presence of white society warrants it. In a hard-learned lesson, Paul is heartlessly humiliated by his father, who whips him for speaking back to white neighbors.
Betrayed by his beloved white brother Robert and cheated out of his pay by a white man, Paul decides to run away to make his own way in the world. He is accompanied...
(The entire section is 379 words.)
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