This 1884 romance novel
is about a half-Indian, half-Scottish girl named Ramona and a full-blood Indian named Alessandro. Set in southern California during the influx of American settlers in the late 19th century, it deals with the abuses suffered by the Native Americans.
Though the book was intended by the author, Helen Hunt Jackson
, to create sympathy for the Indians, most readers focused on the romantic aspects of the story
, triggering a massive influx of tourists into southern California in search of the "real" Ramona.
Not to be confused with the Ramona Quimby
series, better known as Ramona
The book provides examples of:
- Butt Monkey: Native Americans in general, and Alessandro in particular.
- Driven to Madness: Alessandro is driven mad not only by the abuses heaped upon him and his people, but also by the death of his daughter.
- Noble Savage: Alessandro is more noble, more faithful and more honest than pretty much any white person around him.
- Not Blood Siblings: After Alessandro's death, Ramona marries Felipe, her foster brother.
- Rose Tinted Narrative: The novel romanticizes the California mission era.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Ramona and Alessandro. Their love is forbidden by Ramona's guardian, the Señora Moreno, so Ramona runs off with Alessandro. They are subsequently driven from place to place, suffering the loss of their infant daughter, until Alessandro goes mad and is murdered.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Alessandro is driven mad by the abuses heaped upon him and winds up being murdered by a white man after mistaking the white man's horse for his own.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The murder of Alessandro was based on the murder of Juan Diego. Tourists flocked to southern California looking for the "real" Ramona—but the novel was a work of fiction.