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Word Count: 1,239
In this novel EL Docotorow tells how the town of Hard Times in the Dakota Territory earned its name Though the overall desperation seems to be exaggerated by reading this novel one begins to see the fantasy behind the Hollywood version of the American West Welcome to Hard Times provides readers with a picture of what kind of hardscrabble existence the western settlers actually endured as opposed to the sanitized images Hollywood has provided us In the first scene of the novel the reader witnesses the Bad Man from Bodie rape vandalize and burn an entire town Through these events the reader comes to truly understand the nature of this era When Doctorows narrator Blue surmises Bad Men from Bodie werent ordinary scoundrels they came with the land and you could no more cope with them than you could with dust or hailstones expectations wore away with the weather the author reveals the desperation that exists in the Dakota Territory Doctorow 7 Withou t the grueling landscape descriptions and the Bad Man from Bodie the characters in this novel would not have the degree of emotion that they do moreover the novel would not succeed as an attack on the fairy tale image of the West From the onset of the novel Doctorow describes the grueling nature of the world in which these characters exist Throughout the novel Doctorow describes the constant battering from the vengeful Dakota flats the horridness of the Bad Men that come with them and the emotional trauma with which his characters cope It becomes obvious to the reader that the inhabitants of the Dakota Territory develop as a direct result of land that controls them From the onset of the novel the reader realizes that these people do not live in the fairytale Wild West The narrator echoes these sentiments when he says There is no fool like a fool in the West he wont
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