Ferguson farm. Family farm located outside Belmond, Iowa, that the novel idealizes as a source of goodness. It is the source of the family’s heritage and wholesome food, and the family’s therapeutic retreat. Suckow idealizes the American pioneering family farm but recognizes that it cannot continue to be the foundation of American society.
*Belmond. Small town in north-central Iowa whose name is derived from the French words belle monde for “beautiful world.” Suckow uses the name ironically, for though the town is a beautiful world, since people accept their lot in life and their interdependence, Belmond embraces small-town narrow-mindedness, conventionality, and interference in others’ affairs. The town functions as a character commenting on and evaluating the characters as they grow into adults, search for work, create families, and start their lives.
Belmond affirms the Ferguson family’s two “all-American” children, Carl and Dorothy. Carl, Belmond’s high school football hero, basks in the town’s admiration. However, he also acquiesces to its emphasis on security in marriage and career and abandons his dreams. Dorothy is the town’s darling, and its residents envy her when she marries the charismatic Jesse Woodward, who whisks her away to California with visions of wealth, prosperity, and marital bliss.
Belmond also censures the two Ferguson children who...
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