Ellen Foster

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In the book Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons, Ellen Foster grows up in the south dealing with many hardships like her mothers, fathers, and grand mothers death. Ellen learns to understand race by growing up around many African Americans.

Ellen learns many differences about the ways African Americans and whites live by spending time with Starletta and her family. Starletta's family all stay in one room. They have no toilet so they have to go to the bathroom outside. Starletta's mom makes quilts and sells them to white women. "They live regular but most colored people have a grandma or two and a couple dozen cousins in the same house" (30). Ellen realizes that they live different by the color of their skin. Starletta visited Ellen's house for her birthday. Starletta didn't know the ways that white people lived so Ellen had to teach her. "She did not understand how slices and modest servings go so I had to tell her when to quit eating" (51). This showed Ellen that because Starletta was black, she lives different than white people.

Ellen's mama's mama had a job for Ellen, she would work in the cotton field. At first Ellen refused to work until a lady told Ellen "When I gets to the end of mines I'll catch you up to the rest of us" (63). This was the first reasonable thing Ellen had heard, so she began chopping her row. The woman's name was Mavis, she would help cool off Ellen, and help her catch her up with her rows. Ellen and Mavis began to have a strong relationship, and Ellen learned all types of things from her. Ellen began to spy on Mavis' family "It looked like slavery times with them all hanging out on the porch picking at each other. They fought at strong as they played and laughed" (66). Ellen learned a lot about race and how black life is because of what Mavis taught her.

Ellen learns what the word race means. and how people live their lives different because of the color of their skin. Even though Ellen grew up in a racist family, she doesn't hate or...
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