Characters

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 350

In Worster's historical narrative, his characters are non-fictional, as he researched and recorded a myriad of stories and perspectives from people who lived through the tragic Dust Bowl era. He includes many characters in his book, some famous and many common.

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Worster highlights the person who helped name the desperate time period, a reporter from Denver named Robert Geiger. Worster states that Geiger's famous statement,"Three little words, achingly familiar on a Western farmer's tongue, rule life in the dust bowl of the continent--if it rains," resounded with people across the nation, and soon people began to hear of the term in papers, letters, and speeches of famous people and common folks alike.

Worster also provides accounts of figures involved in the Dust Bowl in many different capacities. One federal official who was assigned to work with the area and people of the Dust Bowl was Roy Kimmel, who was a special federal coordinator. He provided information and estimates about the land erosion. He also mentions an economist from the University of California, Paul Taylor, and his insights about the land of the region. As well, he references the work of John Toland, a Congressman who held many meetings for his House Committee on Interstate Migration of Destitute Citizens in 1940, and a geologist named Willard Johnson.

Additionally, Worster provides anecdotes of well-known individuals, like Will Rogers, about the region and time period. As well, Worster references famous writers of the time, such as Erskine Caldwell, Ralph Borsodi, Maurice Kain, H.L. Mencken, and John Steinbeck, who captured the events, drama, and despair of the Dust Bowl. Worster provides an extensive analysis of varying perspectives on The Grapes of Wrath. He also repeatedly mentions the life and ballads of Woody Guthrie.

Throughout his book, he also frequently mentions the tales of common people encountered upon the plains, like George Taton, a wheat farmer in Kansas and H.O. Kelley, a painter and farmer. Worster's combination of accurate, detailed secondary sources (including photos and data) with primary, personal narrations of the Dust Bowl provides an incredible picture of a powerful, poignant decade.

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