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Associations

While I was readingHard Times,” I kept thinking about a specific place and time in history: the Dust Bowl in Kansas. This is not where the story was placed, so I was wondering how I came to that association. When I was reading, I was trying to pay attention to the setting of the story as well as the characters. The descriptions of barefoot families walking down the street looking “like scarecrows en route to another cornfield” (Rash, 6) put me in the time period of either the Great Depression or the Dust Bowl. Since the main family were farmers, my mind placed them in the time period of the Dust Bowl. I associate farmers with Kansas because that is what I grew up knowing. The language also reminded me of Little House on the Prairie, so that is another tie-in to Kansas.

I know that the story is most likely set in North Carolina, because Jacob got a copy of the Raleigh News. I also know that the time period is during the Great Depression because they mention a depression that has lasted for seven years and that is a fairly recent date in history. I did know in the back of my mind that it couldn’t have been set in the Dust Bowl because there was no description of overwhelming dust in the air because of the drought. I just found it interesting that it wasn’t until I read the story a second time, I thought the story was set in Kansas.

When I realized it was set in a different part of the United States, it changed the story slightly. I become more sympathetic towards the Hartleys and imagined the setting more in the foothills of the mountains. I’m still not quite sure why, but I found out that where I think the setting is to the story could change my interpretation of the characters.

One Response to “Associations”

  1. Kaitlin says:

    I also noticed the mention of the “Raleigh News”, so I knew the story was set in North Carolina. However, there are no extensive descriptions of the countryside or any of the buildings. The only aspects of the setting that are mentioned are those which directly pertain to the action. This vagueness makes it easier for us, as the readers, to unconsciously fill in from our own imagination and experiences whatever Rash leaves out, which may be how you came up with Kansas. I can see a clear image of the setting of “Hard Times” in my head, but I’m sure it’s different from the images other readers see. The beauty of implying place rather than describing it is that I relate personally and specifically to my image of Boone and its locale, albeit mostly unconsciously. By allowing the setting to be flexible like this, Rash broadens his story’s message and appeal.