The West Rules with an Iron Fist
In this novel, E.L. Docotorow tells how the town of Hard Times in the Dakota Territory earned its name. Though the overall desperation seems to be exaggerated, by reading this novel one begins to see the fantasy behind the Hollywood version of the American West. Welcome to Hard Times provides readers with a picture of what kind of hardscrabble existence the western settlers actually endured, as opposed to the sanitized images Hollywood has provided us. In the first scene of the novel, the reader witnesses the Bad Man from Bodie rape, vandalize and burn an entire town. Through these events, the reader comes to truly understand the nature of this era. When Doctorow’s narrator, Blue, surmises, ”Bad Men from Bodie weren’t ordinary scoundrels, they came with the land, and you could no more cope with them than you could with dust or hailstones . . .expectations wore away with the weather” the author reveals the desperation that exists in the Dakota Territory (Doctorow 7). Withou! t the grueling landscape descriptions and the Bad Man from Bodie, the characters in this novel would not have the degree of emotion that they do, moreover; the novel would not succeed as an attack on the fairy tale image of the West. From the ons
She holds on to these convictions as she tries to train Fee"tms boy, Jimmy, to defeat the Bad Man, for; she is sure that he will come again. Most of their feelings are in direct relation to the state of their environment. While the others try to forget their tougher times, Molly remembers. While Molly"tms apprentice, Jimmy, leaves town to live as "another Bad Man from Bodie, who used to be Fee"tms boy" (211). The men and the women alike deal with hardships, incomprehensible by today"tms standards. The characters share the emotions of the land; cold desperation envelops them both. When the winter passes and spring arrives, hope is brought to the people of Hard Times. While the land is dying, so are the their spirits. Through the rough winters, the characters feel desolation. The fear that they hold emerges in the line, "Colt gave every man a gun, but you have to squeeze the trigger for yourself"(32). It becomes obvious to the reader that the inhabitants of the Dakota Territory develop as a direct result of land that controls them. Many passages, meant to describe the environmental conditions, inadvertently describe the characters"tm emotions as well. In this novel, Doctorow explains that the people of the American West did not mold the land; the land molded them. As an embodiment of the land of the American West, he arrives unexpectedly and with cruelty.
Some topics in this essay:
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