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"Under the Lion's Paw"
Transcript of "Under the Lion's Paw"
Short Story Study
This short story is about the Haskins family. They settled on land in the midwest which got ruined by grasshoppers. Their neighbor, Jim Council, assists them in purchasing farm land from a man named Jim Butler. Haskins and his family must work on the farm in order to pay it off. It takes the family 3 long years of pouring every ounce of sweat and blood into the farm to finally be able to purchase it. Jim Butler realizes the farm is now worth more after the Haskins family had worked on it for all that time. He then raises the price of the farm which causes the Haskins family the inability to pay for it. After realizing the increase of the price, Haskins threatens Butler. He was just about to kill him when the thoughts of his wife and children came into his head causing him to lower the weapon. Butler then tells Haskins to never come on to the property again or he'd be killed. The story ends with Haskins seated with is head sunk into his hands, filled with the crushing weight of defeat and disappointment.
In Hamland Garland's short story "Under the Lion's Paw", local color diction, vivid imagery, along with motif is used to show Butler's generosity turning into greed once money becomes a bigger part of the picture; ultimately proving that societal greed leads to universal disappointment.
Local Color Diction
The local color diction used in the story allows the reader to get a good grasp on the setting which really has a huge part in understanding the theme. The way the characters spoke in the story and the dialogue between one another really showed the midwestern twang.
"Ye don't say! I want 'o know! The dear little pudzy-wudzy!"
"Pooty tough on 'oo to go gallivant'n' 'cross lots this way-- "
"It 'ud be a religious idee f'r you t' go out an' take a hand
The setting of the story illuminated the theme the best.
At the beginning of the story, Winter is just setting in. You immediately get a glimpse of the uneasy/hard times in the farmer's future.
The conflict was highlighted which was nature being the antagonist.
The hardships of working on a farm were shown including what it takes to run a farm and how the farmers were treated.
According to 'enotes.com', "Autumn and winter are classic metaphors for, among other things, trouble, struggle, and hardship. By setting the story at the time in the year when they meet, the reader is instantly transported into a gloomy, despondent mood that anticipates more struggle than the story opens with."
"Under the Lion's Paw" is definitely a book I would recommend. The local color in the story really gave it a unique tone. While reading it, the diction caused the reader to read it in the Midwestern twang it was written in. The story line was the popular "good v.s evil" and "strong v.s weak" which was very enjoyable. The essence of the story was the struggle to survive which caused the curiosity of what was going to happen to the farmer and the family at the end. The abuse of power in the story presented an everyday problem and showed how greedy and deceitful society is. The best part of the story is how realistic it is. During the time period this was written, Realism was just beginning. The way the life of a farmer is presented and defined in the story makes it easy to see the brutal life of a farmer and how reality really sets in for the reader.
Throughout the entire story, the constant struggle for greed is a repeating theme. Haskins is constantly working hard for the land he is being promised during the story. He forces his family to work, including his younger children. Butler, a selfish real estate agent, notices the work put into the land and then raises it higher than the original asking price. Butler is corrupted and blinded by greed.
"Why, about what you offered it for before, two thousand five hundred, or possibly three thousand dollars," he added quickly, as he saw the owner shake his head.
"This farm is worth five thousand and five hundred dollars," said Butler, in a careless and decided voice.
"What!" almost shrieked the astounded Haskins. "What's that? Five thousand ? Why, that's double what you offered it for three years ago."
"Of course, and it's worth it. It was all run down then now it's in good shape. You've laid out fifteen hundred dollars in improvements, according to your own story."
Garland does a good job of putting a vivid image into the readers heads using adjectives and precise descriptive details throughout the story. She describes realisitc scenes along with the the local color diction to assist in the picturing of what is happening during the story.
"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."
"Butler shrank and quivered, expecting the blow; stood, held hypnotized by the eyes of the man he had a moment before despised a man transformed into an avenging demon. But in the deadly hush between the lift of the weapon and its fall there came a gush of faint, childish laughter and then across the range of his vision, far away and dim, he saw the sun-bright head of his baby girl, as, with the pretty, tottering run of a two-year-old, she moved across the grass of the dooryard. His hands relaxed: the fork fell to the ground; his head lowered."
Nicole Bixler and Quincey Rust