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UNDER THE LION'S PAW by hamlin garland - Essay Example

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The Pursuit of Happiness in Hamlin Garland’s “Under the Lion’s Paw” In his 1891 short story “Under the Lion’s Paw” Hamlin Garland reveals the struggles of Midwestern farmers, and their attempts for economic freedom and independence. In an engaging and thrilling manner, Garland tells the story of ordinary people, captured in the midst of an exploitative economic system…
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UNDER THE LIONS PAW by hamlin garland
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Download file to see previous pages With almost cinematographic precision the opening paragraph takes the reader in the reality of the farmer’s every day life: IT was the last of autumn and first day of winter coming together. All day long the ploughmen on their prairie farms had moved to and fro in their wide level fields through the falling snow, which melted as it fell, wetting them to the skin all day, notwithstanding the frequent squalls of snow, the dripping, desolate clouds, and the muck of the furrows, black and tenacious as tar (Garland 1). What captures the attention is the literary uniqueness of the characters. Although they are created in order to convey the author’s ideas about the organization of society, the characters in “Under the Lion’s Paw” also possess captivating dimensionality, which is revealed through their actions, feelings and struggles: The little woman's eyes filled with tears which fell down upon the sleeping baby in her arms. The world was not so desolate and cold and hopeless, after all (Garland 3). Garland also conveys broader notions of the organization of society and the distribution of resources through his characters. He expresses his moral views of good and evil. The social contrast between these characters is what constitutes Garland’s universe and the human values on which it is based. One of the leading characters in the story is Timothy Haskins. He is the embodiment of the average, hard-working man, who is ready to sacrifice everything in the name of his ideal, which is his family. Haskins is Garland’s vision of the hard-working, honest man, who has internalized the constraints of the system, which in most of the cases works against him: Many a night he worked till his anxious wife came out at ten o'clock to call him in to rest and lunch […] No slave in the Roman galleys could have toiled so frightfully and lived, for this man thought himself a free man, and that he was working for his wife and babes (Garland 10). Timothy Haskins represents the individual aspect of a social struggle, against land speculation and unfair taxation in the 1880s and 1890s. In this sense the story sends the author’s message for social reform as the only road to democratization. The antidote of this vision of social and economic equality is Jim Butler. He is the collective image of those, who have gained economic supremacy through illegal means, and greed has transformed their capacity to create into capacity to dominate. It is difficult to say whether Butler is morally corrupt or just taking advantage of the system. Jim Butler was one of those men called in the West "land poor” […]But a change came over him at the end of the second year, when he sold a lot of land for four times what he paid for it. From that time forward he believed in land speculation as the surest way of getting rich (Garland 5) Finally, Steve Council represents the virtues of society, such as compassion, trustworthiness, sincerity, empathy, honesty, and kindness. These are the pillars of society, as envisioned by the author, which he has embedded in Council’s uncomplicated, noble character. Council moved about uneasily in his seat and stopped his stammering gratitude by saying: "Hold on, now; don't make such a fuss over a little thing. When I see a man down, an' things all on top of 'm, I jest like t' kick 'em ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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