Topics for Further Study

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The land given away by the Homestead Act of 1862 was originally settled by Native Americans. Research how and when the Native Americans lost their land to colonists and pioneers. Write an essay about this land, addressing what the land meant to the Native Americans and what it meant to the homesteaders. Do you feel that one group was more deserving of the land than the other?

Why do you think Cleage chose Flyin’ West as the title of this play, and do you think it is a good title? Explain your answer, and also suggest three other titles for the play.

Read Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe or watch the 1991 movie version, Fried Green Tomatoes. Write an essay as if you are a film critic comparing and contrasting Flagg’s story and Flyin’ West.

Sophie describes the negative reactions of many of the other African Americans in Memphis when the sisters headed for the West. Imagine you are one of those doubtful people who chose to stay in the South, and write a one-week journal from that point of view. Be sure to include the day Sophie, Minnie, and Fannie left.

Research the beginnings of feminism in the United States. What were some of the original issues that inspired the first feminists, and at what point did African-American women become involved in the movement? How do the characters in Flyin’ West reflect and/or negate the basic principles of feminism?

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