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Riding Freedom Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 45 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Riding Freedom.
This section contains 684 words
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Riding Freedom Summary & Study Guide Description

Riding Freedom Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Riding Freedom by Pam Munoz Ryan.

The following version of the book was used to create this guide: Munoz Ryan, Pam. Riding Freedom. Scholastic Inc., 1998.

Riding Freedom by Pam Munoz Ryan is the story of Charlotte, a woman orphaned as a toddler who grows up in an orphanage, but dreams of owning her own ranch and working with horses. A work of historical fiction, the novel follows her life from childhood to the realization of her dreams.

The novel begins when with Charlotte’s birth and early years in the mid-eighteen hundreds. From the start, she was an unusual child who rarely cried and survived illnesses that killed other children. She learned to do most things before other babies did, such as walking at an age before most babies had learned to crawl.

When Charlotte was two, she was in a wagon accident with her parents on a story night. Both of her parents were killed. Charlotte was found holding the reins of one of the horses. The other horses were gathered around her as though protecting her. The couple who found her could not keep her, so she was sent to an orphanage.

Charlotte lived in the orphanage until she was 10-years-old. Her best friend there was a younger boy named Hayward whom she had rescued from being bullied by some of the other boys. Charlotte and Hayward dreamed of owning their own ranch and raising horses. She was also friends with the elderly stable master, a runaway slave named Vern. Charlotte was not adopted because the orphanage’s cook, Mrs. Boyle, hid her from prospective parents in hopes of keeping her as kitchen help. Though Charlotte helped in the kitchen, she loved working in the stables with Vern and had a special way with the horses.

One day, Charlotte rode her favorite horse, Freedom, in a race against some of the other boys in the orphanage. She won. One of the boys was jealous and talked to the orphanage’s overseer, Mr. Millshark, about Charlotte riding. Mr. Millshark told Charlotte she could not ride in the races anymore or work in the stables. After finding out that she could not work with the horses and that Hayward had been adopted, Charlotte ran away from the orphanage disguised as a boy.

Charlotte ended up in Worcester, Massachusetts where she hid in the loft of a stable. When the stable master, Ebeneezer, found her, Charlotte introduced herself as Charley and asked to work for him in exchange for food and a place to sleep. Although Ebeneezer knew that Charlotte was a girl, he never questioned her about it or told anyone else.

Mr. Millshark came to Worcester looking for Charlotte. When he asked Ebeneezer about a runaway girl, Ebeneezer told him that he had not seen her. Shortly after that, he sent Charlotte to his new stables in Rhode Island and taught her to drive stagecoach. Still disguised as male, Charlotte became a renowned stagecoach driver. She frequently drove important people.

Eventually, Charlotte received an invitation to move to California to work for a new stagecoach company. The owners told her about the land that was plentiful and cheap in the West. The promise of land made Charlotte accept the offer and move to California.

Charlotte was badly injured and lost the vision in one of her eyes. Though she was told she could never drive again, Charlotte practiced driving until she could do it flawlessly. After proving herself, Charlotte was given a route.

When Charlotte had saved up enough money, she purchased property with plans to move Ebeneezer out to run a way station for her. She also wrote to Hayward and invited him. Hayward came to visit and promised to move back to be with Charlotte after moving his parents from Missouri to California. Ebeneezer came as well.

The novel ends with Charlotte still masquerading as a man. Always conscious of women’s role in the world, Charlotte decided to vote in the presidential elections in hopes that one day people would know she was a woman and would discover that she had voted.

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