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The West Virginia Coal Wars: Storming Heaven By Denise Giardina

1274 words - 6 pages

Storming Heaven is Denise Giardina’s second and award winning novel, published in 1987. The historical novel is a fiction-based recount of the bitter labor conflict that took place in southern West Virginia during the early 1920s, otherwise known as the West Virginia Coal Wars. The author tells the story of the real conflict faced by miners through the eyes of four main characters, each from different walks of life, with their own different point of view. The story told about the real life hardship faced by coal miners and the ensuing conflict is a subject narrowly covered by The American Journey. Although the story that is told through the main characters is fictionalized, it provides a ...view middle of the document...

With some characters being more religious than others, it adds to the essence of contrast and further separates the characters within the story.
As previously stated, the book only has four fictional main characters, who serve as narrators to the story. The story of the conflict is told by following the experiences of the characters. The characters come from different backgrounds, each with their own unique story. The characters’ individual stories also intertwine with a love story between two of the main characters. Although I found this at times difficult to piece together while trying to grasp the plot, it still adds a very necessary component to piece the story together. Listed by the order encountered in the story, the four main characters include: Mayor C.J. Marcum, Rondal Lloyd, Carrie Bishop, and Rosa Angelelli.
C.J. Marcum is the first to be introduced into the story. Marcum served as a union activist for miners’ rights and was the mayor of a small coal town. Rondal Lloyd is the second narrator in the story. Lloyd is portrayed as a loveless man and a union man. Third to be introduced is Carrie Bishop. She is portrayed as a nurse, who falls in love with Rondal Lloyd. Fourth and final is Rosa Angelelli, a Sicillian immigrant. Angelelli seemed to be significantly less important to the story, as her appearance in the book was more brief than the other three characters. Additionally, her chapters were also hard to read, as she does not speak English well.
The story begins in Justice County, West Virginia, immediately prior to the arrival of the coal companies. Before the arrival of the coal companies, life had been the same for generations. The inhabitants were self sufficient by farming the land. Rumors of the railroad companies wanting the mineral rights to the area began to surface, and soon the railroad began going to the people to request that they sign the mineral rights to their land to them. As it turns out later in the story, the railroad companies would sign the mineral rights over to the coal companies. Most landowners were completely opposed to signing rights away to what lie beneath the surface of their land. C.J. Marcum opens the story telling how the railroad agents requested that his grandfather sign his land rights away. When Marcum’s grandfather refused, he was murdered and the family was forced off their land, just like everyone else.
After the coal companies began to move into the area, they set up camps. Many of the residents who were forced off their land then worked for the coal companies. C.J.’s family instead had decided to move to the Justice farm, which was owned by C.J.’s grandfather’s cousin,...

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