Under the Lion's Paw

by Hamlin Garland

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Student Question

What myth does Garland aim to debunk in "Under the Lion's Paw"?

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Many of Garland's stories, including this one, seek to debunk the myth that farm life is idyllic. He wanted to show that pastoralism, the idea that life is better in the country, is a myth. He does this in "Under the Lion's Paw" by telling a realistic story about a family who have to leave their farm because of a series of unfortunate events, such as destruction caused by grasshoppers. The main character is then persuaded to rent another farm, though he does not have the money. Farmers in the area lend a helping hand by letting him borrow tools and giving him seeds. They also help him till the land. He can finally afford to buy the farm, but the land owner now wants double the price because of how successful he has made the farm by using his own funds and his own hard work. He becomes so angry at the landowner that he almost kills him with a pitchfork, but then he sees his young child. The story is resolved when he finally agrees to buy the farm. The way in which nature and circumstances work against the main character, and the depiction of all of the hard work that farming entails, helps to dispel the myth that the country life is idyllic.

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