Worst Hard Time Essay

1204 words - 5 pages

The Worst Hard Time is a story that captivates readers through the telling of survival stories from different point of views, ranging from a partial Indian cowboy, an optimistic school teacher, mother, and wife, as well as a family ‘Russian Germans’ that immigrated to America to escape the czar’s army draft. Not everyone in the story has a happy ending after the dirty thirties, as the Dust Bowl was a critical time in the American High Plains full of tragedy, false hope, and broken dreams of farmers and civilians alike. Timothy Egan tells the stories of these survivors while sprinkling information on the presidents’ overall view of the Dust Bowl and how to help the High Plains during their ...view middle of the document...

This just sets the tone for the rest of the story; a chill going up one’s spine because of the way Egan describes Ike’s attitude towards the question posed. After this short anecdote, another survivor is portrayed, only a short distance from the Osteen family, by the name of Jeanne Clark, daughter of a Broadway dancer and a rancher in Lamar, Colorado. Clark is described with her “constant companion, an oxygen cylinder,” from the prolonged effects of living in the American High Plains during the black dusters of the 1930’s. Dust pneumonia was a taboo, a word that parents of small children cringed at hearing and elderly men and women were afraid to hear, as well. Clark’s description of Black Sunday starts off as a very calm day in mid-April, before turning into a scene from a horror movie, the little Jeanne Clark being caught up in a swirl of black grit that blinded her and gagged her with particulates. It was an evident contrast—Jeanne’s mother supposedly going to the Plains for her own respiratory health, when it was killing her daughter from the inside-out. Egan comes to his last survivor, Melt White, in Dalhart, Texas. White’s introduction brings up another large point that Egan bring to light from the dirty thirties: the Last Man Club. However, this is described later, and is not as much of part of the warning that Egan builds upon through his story. White’s introduction brings the point of view of a partial-Indian cowboy, who grew up during the time of the dusters and explains his own rage towards the plowing of fields in the American High Plains. White’s point of view brings up part of the warning that Egan works up through the book—if farmers can tear up millions upon millions of acres for farming and other agricultural practices to make a couple bucks, who’s to say that they won’t do it yet again. As the saying goes, history often repeats itself, and with the money-grubbing society that America has developed, it’s sound logic to think that they would tear up all these acres again to make a lump sum.
Egan’s novel is sending the message to modern America that they need to understand and evaluate if the benefits of what they’re doing is outweighing the costs and the possible prolonged effects. Osteen’s description of the Dust Bowl is obviously a sign of the severity of the thirties and how...

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