Along with setting, characterization is an important piece of historical fiction. Many historical fiction books, including Boston Jane, use the names of real people who inhabited the setting at the time.
In relation to the faithfulness to the historic record, it is important for readers to recognize that the characters were real people, and the characters need to be believable in the historical setting. Do you think that the characters were represented in a realistic way? Did the characters in the book share any traits with the real-life men and women?
Remember the questions you were asked to think about in the first task as you continue your research. Questions that are more specific to this task are listed in the boxes below.
Task 3: The residents of Shoalwater Bay
Even though Jane is our main character, did you know she is surrounded by a variety of other historical figures?
In Boston Jane, Jennifer Holm decided to use a variety of characters who were real residents of Shoalwater Bay during the time period that the book takes place in.
For this task, you will research biographical information for James G. Swan, Father Joseph, and Chief Toke and Suis, as well as learn about the Chinook tribe. As you are completing your research and finding background information for each character, think about the people in terms of the character traits they were given in Boston Jane.
Were the characters portrayed in a realistic way, according to the information you uncovered? Do you think they belong in the setting of Shoalwater Bay?
To complete this task, you may wish to split up the characters and focus your attention on one specific person or group of people. Then, you can combine your information with your group after you have all finished taking notes.
Questions to consider:
(These are only examples - you may think of more!)
*What was the character like in real-life? How is he/she/they described?
*What is important to know about the Chinook tribe?
*What was the role of Father Joseph as a missionary?
*How well did Jennifer Holm portray her characters in relation to their real lives?
*Where were their character traits the same, and where were they different?
*Would you believe Holm's characters to be representative of the real people? Why or why not?
I need more! Where else can I go?
Here are some other sources on the Internet that may be of value to you as you either continue research for this project, or if you are curious about another aspect of Washington State or America in the 19th century.
Give yourself a pat on the back for coming this far! That was a lot of research! Are you ready for your final task? Your journey is almost complete--click on the map to continue!
Image courtesy the American Memory Project
A map showing four different passages that ships took to reach the West coast in the 19th century. Jane's trip probably would have been similar to one of these paths.
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