Summary: The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction

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To Satisfy the Desires of Women:
The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction by Linda Gordon

Linda Gordon uses her book The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction to show racial, gender, class, and religious issues in Arizona during the early 1900s. This novel, at first, seems to be about the orphan train that ran from New York City to Arizona. However, the title is misleading, as it suggests to the reader that the novel is focusing on the orphans. Rather, Gordon uses the orphans as a lens through which one can view the inequalities between the people in Arizona.
The novel begins when forty orphans are put on an orphan train and sent to Clifton-Morenci, two mining towns on the United States’ side of the Arizonan-Mexican border. The children had adoptive
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In each of the issues presented in the book, from race, class, and religion, the women of these Arizona towns play an important role, thus it is safe to assume that it is Gordon’s intention to emphasize the women’s function. First, before being able to examine the women’s role in the titular abductions, it is important to note the women’s role in society. Gordon succinctly clarifies this role by writing, “Not only did men long for women, they longed for wives, and the presence of a few women only intensified that feeling.” Women were highly regarded in this society, as there were so few of them. Because of this, the men who were able to find wives were easily susceptible to the woman’s persuasion because they had a desire to please them. This already fixed opinion of women’s place in society became even more established during the orphan abductions. While women were previously highly regarded, the abductions became a primary reason why their importance grew. Gordon supports this idea when she writes, “the women took the initiative in this undertaking, defining it as belonging within their sphere of authority, and that, in taking the initiative, they enlarged that sphere.” The women, by taking control over…show more content…
Women were incredibly important primarily because of their ability to persuade their husbands to participate in the vigilantism behind the abductions. Religion was important, as it became a major justification during the trial for these abductions. All in all, Gordon is successful in highlighting the various issues by looking through the lens of the orphan abductions, and proves through this book that the women were not only the cause of the abductions, but also the reason why these Arizonan towns were filled with racial inequalities, class issues, and religious
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