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Sarny, A Life Remembered, By Gary Paulsen

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"Sarny, A Life Remembered"

By: Gary Paulsen

Character Descriptions

The characters in this story are some very interesting people. They each lead their own way of life, and have their own interests at heart. Some of the main characters in this novel are: Sarny, Lucy, Miss Laura, Bartlett, Stanley, and Sarny's two children Little Delie, and Tyler. Sarny is the central character in this book. She is clever and knows exactly what to even in the worst of times. She is very emotional though, and can break down and cry when the slightest of things happens. This is perhaps from what she has experienced as a slave earlier on in her life. Sarny is fond of teaching people, as a friend named Nightjohn once taught her. Lucy is Sarny's close friend. She is also quite wise, but is a bit too optimistic at times. She never stops smiling and is very friendly. However, she does help Sarny find her lost children. Miss Laura is a middle-aged woman who lives a very luxurious life. She gives Sarny and Lucy a place to live and offers them employment. She also finds Sarny's children for her. Bartlett works for Miss Laura as well. He is a quiet and patient man who is helpful and quite kind. He was however castrated as a young slave boy, and cannot have children. Stanley is Sarny's second husband, for her first died from being worked to death on the plantation. Stanley is a gentle, big, fun-loving man, but is not intimidated by anything. This leads him to his death when he gets mad at a white man, and is confronted by the Ku Klux Klan. Little Delie and Tyler are Sarny's lost children. After she recovers them, and they grow up, Little Delie starts to like business, while Tyler wants to become a doctor.


The protagonist, or main character of this story is of course Sarny. She was never born with a last name as she grew up on a plantation as an African-American slave. When Sarny gets her children sold to another plantation owner, she is deeply hurt. However, when she is set free by the Union troops, she goes and looks for her children right away. Sarny meets quite a few people along the way, but eventually finds her beloved children.


The antagonists of this story are the white racist people of the South. Waller, the plantation owner, who once owned Sarny and sold her children; the gray Confederate soldiers who are fighting for slavery to stay; and the people who keep burning Sarny's schools down, and kill her husband.

Brief Summary

The story starts off with just Sarny on the plantation. After her children are sold, she is tied up so she won't run away and look for them. After a few days, blue union troops come and free Sarny, along with the rest of the slaves. She immediately starts looking for her lost children with Lucy, another former slave from the same plantation. They come across a man named Greerson, who has sold Sarny's children to another man after he bought them from Sarny's former master, Waller. He is dead however, and of no use. Lucy finds some papers on the children, and they find out that they have been sold to a man in New Orleans. They go to the big city, and there they meet Miss Laura, who changes their lives forever. First. Miss Laura offers the two women employment, and promises Sarny that she will get her children back. This she does when she throws a party, and the man who has the children attends. After a while, Sarny remarries, but her husband is killed again, this time by the racist white people. Miss Laura also passes on, and leaves all that she has to Sarny. As Sarny's children grow up, find jobs, and have children of their own, Sarny grows old too. She has taught many people to read by now, and has opened up many schools. Sarny has indeed led a great life.


In my opinion, the story reaches its climax, or highest point, when Miss Laura dies. Although it seems as if the turning point occurs when Sarny finds her children, it really does not. Even though Sarny is indeed happy, she still has to face some troubles later on. However, when Miss Laura dies and leaves everything to her, she does not seem to face any more difficulties, besides the fact of losing

more of her family, as they die of old age.





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