What is the town's relationship to the fort in "The Hammon and the Beans"?

The town's relationship with the fort in "The Hammon and the Beans" is quite distant. The soldiers inside the fort are generally indifferent to the people of the town. The gap between the inhabitants of the fort and the town is exacerbated by cultural and linguistic differences.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Although Fort Jones is very near to the town, it might as well be on a different planet. It's a place where none of the children go inside except Chonita, and even when she does, she's aware that she's not welcome. During her brief visits to the fort, she becomes acutely aware that there are huge cultural and linguistic differences between herself and the soldiers who live there.

Even though Chonita has learned some of the English words and expressions used by the soldiers at Fort Jones, it doesn't bring her any closer to them. But then, they're not there to fraternize with the locals; they are there to do a job of work: to guard the border and ensure there's no repeat of the troubles a decade earlier.

Technically, then, the soldiers of Fort Jones are there to protect the people of the town. But even so, there's no real connection between the two groups of people. To a large extent, this is because most of the soldiers are white English speakers, whereas the local community consists of Spanish-speakers.

Even though the children of the town learn all about American history at school, it seems that they're still a long way off from becoming fully assimilated into American society. And one could say that Fort Jones represents the cultural and linguistic barriers that separate white from Latino and Spanish speakers from English speakers.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial