Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Under the Lion’s Paw” is a realistic story with characteristics of Garland’s veritism. He defines “veritism” as a form of realism that uses true-to-life detail with an impressionist’s subjectivity. True-to-life detail is immediately apparent in the somber opening paragraphs as Garland describes the end of a farmer’s (Council’s) workday. Local color elements, such as the dialogue, help sustain the realism: Council, dressed in a ragged greatcoat against the cold weather, is plowing his field with four horses and calls out to them: “Come round there, boys!—Round agin! . . . Stiddy, Kate—stiddy! None o’ y’r tantrums, Kittie.” Garland captures the regional speech rhythms and words in the fashion of the true local colorist.

In his narration and description, he uses traditional figures of speech—simile, metaphor, personification, alliteration, and others—to fine effect: “squalls of snow,” “dripping, desolate clouds,” “tenacious as tar,” “holding at bay the growl of the impotent, cheated wind,” the children had a “sort of spasmodic cheerfulness, as insects in winter revive when laid on the hearth.”

In addition to realism, there are elements of naturalism and impressionism in “Under the Lion’s Paw.” Naturalism is suggested in the fact that Haskins is a victim of circumstances not of his making but of happenstance: the failure of his first farm because of the grasshoppers, the good...

(The entire section is 546 words.)