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Hard Times

I felt as though I knew how this story would end the minute it began. In “Hard Times,” the author examines the tradeoff between what is perceived as “right” and what is best. In every scene, the victims of the Great Depression are forced to make the difficult choices that dictate their survival. We see that in every case, the way one would normally act in a comfortable, livable environment, becomes inefficient in the sense of survival, and making the choice to do “right” has serious repercussions (whereas doing what is most appropriate given the situation or “best” seems callous). Hartley’s dog was better off dead because it would not need to be fed, nor would it endanger the survival of Jacob and Edna. However,  Hartley’s pride in refusing the meat offered to his family, while “right” in his own mind, was a very poor choice given his situation. The callousness Edna displayed toward her children did one very positive thing, it split the family up so that the burden to feed and house  each individual would be split to each his own.  We are led along in this story with much anxiety, and we are left with a discomforting notion of  a child’s fight against starvation, as a sort of what-could-have-happened if Jacob and Edna had not made the difficult choices they did.

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