A Thousand Steps
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From the snow-covered mountains of North Carolina to the untamed wilds of Indian Territory, A Thousand Steps takes readers on a perilous quest for freedom, truth, and love.
In 1855, risking everything for a chance at happiness, two women—separated by class, race, and geographic distance – undertake a journey to the rugged plains of Indian Territory. There, their lives intersect in a stunning explosion of danger, death, and revenge.
When Tama flees Royaltin Ridge, the North Carolina plantation where she was born into slavery, she boldly joins forces with Hakan, a fugitive Creek Indian who is also on the run. Hakan offers Tama refuge at Great Oaks, his village hidden deep within the Georgia forest. There, she falls in love with the stoic, yet handsome man, and settles among the Indians, believing her life as a free woman will endure.
However, Tama's peace and security are short-lived. Her ruthless master, Thorne Royaltin, who is obsessed with reclaiming his property, will stop at nothing to achieve that end. Hakan's sister, Suja, resents the arrival of the beautiful mulatto girl who has stolen her brother's heart, and vows to make Tama disappear.
When the government forcibly removes the Indians from their village and marches them into Indian Territory, Tama is thrown into a downward spiral that threatens to destroy all hope for freedom, as well as a future with Hakan.
Elinore Wardlaw is an avid abolitionist and a military wife separated from her husband, Paul, for four years. Determined to reunite her family, Elinore and her young son travel from their home in Ohio to Fort Gibson, the sprawling Army installation near the Arkansas border—the entry point to Indian Territory. Elinore's arrival at the fort brings her husband great pleasure, but it also creates a rift in their marriage that they struggle to overcome. Paul's deeply rooted southern heritage haunts his marriage, testing his commitment to the woman he loves.
The unlikely collision of Tama and Elinore's lives serves as the catalyst to expose a shocking secret that defines their futures and catapults them into a bitter struggle to survive.
A Thousand Steps - A Novel
Author: Anita Richmond Bunkley www.anitabunkley firstname.lastname@example.org
Published by Rinard Publishing
Cypress, Texas USA
First Printing January 2013
Copyright © Anita Richmond Bunkley
Book Club Discussion Questions
A Thousand Steps by Anita Bunkley
1. Tama’s decision to free Hakan from the trader’s jail was risky. How did her ability to take such a risk define her character while on the run?
2. Not unlike many Indians, Hakan could read and write English. How did this ability shape his personality?
3. Tama ran West instead of North. Why didn't more slaves try to escape to the West? Why do you think the Indians gave refuge to runaway slaves? Why didn’t they turn them in for the rewards?
4. When Hakan tells Tama “ If you stay among my people, you will be safe,” do you think he really believed he could protect her? How did his promise impact his relationship with his sister, Suja?
5. Describe the tension between Tama and Suja. Was it justified for both? How did the two women view each other? What did they share in common?
6. Tama believes that she has fallen in love with Hakan. Did she? Did he love her? How would you describe their bond? Can love truly exist when there is such an imbalance of cultures between two people?
7. How would you describe Thorne Royaltin? What kind of a slave owner is he? What does Tama actually mean to Thorne and how did his treatment of Maggie affect his relationship with Tama?
8. When the soldier, Fisko, orders the Fox to leave Great Oaks, Hakan refuses. To stop the killing, he eventually relents. How do his people, and Tama, view his actions during the forced removal?
9. How did Elinore feel about going to Fort Gibson? How would life in Indian Territory compare and contrast with her life in Ohio?
10. How does Elinore’s experience at the fort change her relationship with Paul, and his with her, over the course of the time?
11. What was Paul’s opinion of Julee when he first met her? Describe the arc of their relationship. What changed the way they eventually saw each other?
12. Julee lived a life defined by indignity and degradation in St. Louis. How did she cope and overcome her pain?
13. Describe Julee’s opinion of Big Tim before she learns who he is. Did Big Tim do the right thing by hiding his relationship to Julee? Why or why not?
14.What role does the woman, Daisy, play in the novel? When she first meets Elinore, she is startled by her behavior. Why doesn't Elinore seem to "understand the rules?" How does their meeting influence the future, especially Julee’s?
15. How did Thorne’s killing of the poker player on the Belle Ohio and his murder of the woman at the hotel define him? Why do you think he reacted so calmly to both incidents?
16. Many events happen during Tama’s journey to Indian Territory. Talk about the significance of her “sale” to Zachary. How does this incident affect her, as well as the other characters?
17. Compare and contrast the three women at the heart of the novel: Tama, Elinore, and Julee. Though they are very different, are their expectations the same? What accounts for their similarities? What does freedom mean to Tama? To Elinore? To Julee? To Hakan? To Big Tim?
18. After Suja learns that Fisko has taken Tama away, she lies to Hakan. What does this tell you about Suja?
19. Discuss the hardships of the journey West. How did it affect the lives of blacks, Indians, and whites?
20. What did you learn from reading A Thousand Steps? What affected you most about the story?