Under the Lion's Paw Questions and Answers
by Hamlin Garland

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How are the characters in "Under the Lion's Paw" by Hamlin Garland victims of determinism? Please give specific examples from the story.

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Determinism is defined as

the belief that all events are caused by things that happened before them and that people have no real ability to make choices or control what happens.

This philosophy suggests that man has no choice in his life but is instead controlled by the forces around him; it is generally seen as a helplessness at the hands of uncontrollable fate. Determinism is much like a naturalistic view, in which man is seen as being at the mercy of an uncontrollable nature. In Hamlin Garland's "Under the Lion's Paw," the Haskins are, as you suggest, victims of both natural and man-made determinism. 

The Haskins are driven out of their Kansas home and their livelihood by a plague of grasshoppers "four years, hand runnin'"; this is obviously something which is far beyond their ability to predict, contain, or control. Despite all their hard work, they have to leave their home and land with virtually nothing because of elements beyond their control. Hamlin makes their plight clear:

There is no despair so deep as the despair of a homeless man or woman. To roam the roads of the country or the streets of the city, to feel there is no rood of ground on which the feet can rest, to halt weary and hungry outside lighted windows and hear laughter and song within, these are the hungers and rebellions that drive men to crime and women to shame.

To make matters worse, the Haskins actually traveled through this land in Indiana ("Ingyannie") where the Councils live and wanted to settle here but could not afford it when he and his family passed through four years ago. Things might have been different for the Haskins if they had been able to stay here.

Taking pity on them, Steve Council...

(The entire section contains 612 words.)

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