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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 271

Atheneum published Robinet's novel Mississippi Chariot in 1994. A historical novel, it tells the story of a sharecropper family in the Mississippi Delta living in a troubled racial climate in May of 1936. The novel focuses on Shortning Bread Jackson, a twelve-year-old boy who wants to free his innocent father...

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Atheneum published Robinet's novel Mississippi Chariot in 1994. A historical novel, it tells the story of a sharecropper family in the Mississippi Delta living in a troubled racial climate in May of 1936. The novel focuses on Shortning Bread Jackson, a twelve-year-old boy who wants to free his innocent father from a Mississippi chain gang. Sheriff Clark of Sleepy Corners has arrested Rufus Jackson after wrongfully accusing him of stealing a car. The difficulties Shortning faces in freeing his father show the challenge of making changes in an era when whites and African Americans coming together almost always caused trouble.

The significant events in the novel occur during a crucial one-week period that positively alters the Jacksons's lives forever. The narrative begins with Shortning asking his mother, Claudia Jackson, for time off on his twelfth birthday. He has never had a birthday present and never asked for time off from chopping cotton. However, he needs to think up a plan to save his father, who has left two years earlier to serve time in a chain gang for a crime he did not commit. Shortning's family has been miserable, and he worries about his mother. She is raising five children alone and providing food for her family by taking in laundry and ironing. As Shortning copes with trying to fix this injustice, he reexamines himself and his relationships. He knows the painful reality that only a white person with influence can free his African-American father. Mississippi Chariot shows the complexity of racism. It illustrates the ability of young adults to overcome odds in pursuit of justice and to persist in overcoming negative attitudes.

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