Hamlin Garland Short Fiction Analysis
Hamlin Garland’s most enduring short stories are those dealing with the Middle Border (the prairie lands of Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska, and the Dakotas). Collected for the most part in four books, they touch on nearly every subject of everyday life, from birth through youth, adulthood, courtship, and marriage, to death. They deal with the unromantic life of harassed generations on the farms and in the small towns of the prairie. Garland’s belief that an author must write of “what is” with an eye toward “what is to be” causes him alternately to describe, prophesy, suggest, and demand. Although often subtle in his approach, he is sometimes, when championing the cause of the farmer, more the reformer than the artist. Social protest is the single most recurrent theme in his work. “A Stopover at Tyre” and “Before the Low Green Door” show with some skill the unrelenting drudgery of the farmer’s life.
“Under the Lion’s Paw”
“Under the Lion’s Paw,” Garland’s most anthologized story, is his most powerful statement of protest. In it, one man, Tim Haskins, like thousands of struggling farmers, is exploited by another man, representative of scores of other land speculators. Haskins, through months of arduous labor, pushing his own and his wife’s energies to their limits, has managed to make the dilapidated farm he is renting a productive place of which he can be proud. He has begun to feel confident...
(The entire section is 2075 words.)
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