Shades of Gray

by Carolyn Reeder

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Student Question

Did the author accurately depict a historical period in Shades of Gray? Why or why not?

Expert Answers

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Yes, the "particular historical period" that Reeder accurately describes in Shades of Gray is the late eighteen hundreds (or late nineteenth century) in the United States of America.  Specifically, the time period of the Civil War.

Most importantly, the book correctly describes the huge amount of damage this particular war caused in regards to both American life and society.  In the book you can find times when loyalty was damaged, friendships were damaged, families were damaged, personal pride was damaged, lifestyles were damaged, wealth was damaged, homeplaces were damaged, cattle were damaged, and crops were damaged.  Quite frankly, this is a lot of damage and, in that, damage that actually did happened during the Civil War. 

One specific example of accurate depiction of damage caused by the Civil War is when Will travels toward the east to his home.  During this time, he passes farm after farm actually "blackened" by the remains of the war.  Many homeplaces and farms (and people) were burned.  He also passes new grave-site after new grave-site. 

Other examples that accurately depicts the time period is the personal loss involved.  Will has lost his entire family.  Uncle Jed has lost his entire livelihood when he lost his cattle (which was taken by the troops "for the cause").  Families were destroyed in loyalty (and essence) due to opposite loyalty:  when some members supported the South and some members supported the North. 

In conclusion, we must mention that there is also an accurate depiction of how war's devastation can be rectified:  through hard work, perseverance, and integrity.

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