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The Corn Planting

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Hatch Hutchenson lives in a small town, where he marries a schoolteacher and they have a son named Will. The Hutchenson family runs a farm even after their son Will goes into Chicago to attend school at the Art Institute as a cartoonist. At the Art Institute, Will meets a young man named Hal Weyman and they become good friends. Hal Weyman develops a strong relationship with the Hutchensons and visits them to read Will’s letters while he is still at the school. Hal receives a telegraph notifying him that Will died in a drunken car crash, and Hal and the narrator travel to the Hutchenson household to bare the bad news. The Hutchensons are so distraught with the news that in order to cope with their loss, they proceed to plant corn in their nightgowns in the middle of the night. -Glorify the small-town lifestyle – Stressing importance of keeping a connection to the Earth. -Shows the distance created by industrialization and cities. -Portrays the dangers of the cities (drinking, parting, ect.)

Major Characters:

Who are the major characters and how does the author develop them? What do the characters represent?

Hatch Hutchenson- a simple, hardworking and dedicated man who was 70 years of age and was devoted to his family and his farming way of life, refused to travel into the city and leave behind the life he had known.

Hal Weyman- Met Will Hutchenson at the Art Institute in Chicago and had a close relationship with Mr. and Mrs. Hutchenson. Read letters from Will to the Hutchensons, and informed them of their sons death.

Will Hutchenson- a charismatic free-spirit, intelligent, creative and well-liked by all. The son of Hatch and Mrs. Hutchenson. Studied at the Art Institute in Chicago as a cartoonist and sells his cartoons to advertisement companies. Dies of a drunk driving accident. -Hatch’s character and his refusal to travel into the city shows both an escape and connection relating to the Earth. -Will’s presence in the city shows where corruption lies in society and this was portrayed through the drinking and partying and when Will sold his cartoons to an advertisement company. -Will’s character is stressed by the narrator as being an amazing human-being and his youth , creativity and untamed mentality was portrayed as being enjoyed by other people, however a danger to the individual person.

Theme Statements:

What are the major themes suggested by the work?

Form a relationship with nature because unlike other people and aspects in society you can always depend on it. The city is corrupt and people cannot control aspects of their lives where distance does not permit it. Small-town life and the working class are the strongest facets to American society. Shows people of the early 1900’s and late 1800’s were dependent on nature and believed that industrialization and cities were corrupt.

Author Purpose:

What is the author’s purpose in writing the short story? What is the larger point he/she is attempting to make?

To urge people to revert back to their original ways of life such as farming, and avoid the dangers of industrialization, cities and new technology because it divides families, and creates new danger in everyday life. Reflected the state of mind of society during the time of industrialization and populating of cities. With war becoming imminent, people were more concerned with protecting themselves and remaining secure in their small-towns.

Role of the Setting:

How does the author use the landscape? How is the land/natural world portrayed?

The farmland and crops prove to be an escape to the Hutchensons, a way to cope with the loss of their son, and a connection or relationship in which they could always depend on. The city represented an industrialized and technological area which resulted in it obtaining more dangers. The distance created due to traveling brought on by the automobile, the train, ect., separated families and changed the style of living in America. Stresses the necessity of people to remain where they are, continue the lifestyle taken on by their ancestors and prevent industrialization and technological advances by staying away from the dangers of the cities.

Author’s Craft:

From which point of view is the story told? How does the author change the form of the short story itself? How does the author use specific literary devices to achieve his/her objective? Consider point of view, symbolism, characterization, dialogue, imagery, allusion, foreshadowing, juxtaposition, dialect and other literary devices.

1st Person Narration- important in pertaining to this time period because the narrator does not reveal enough information for the reader to know the story is completely truthful, and the themes presented are not clear. As a result of the lack of clarity with themes, it leaves the story to be more open to the narrator’s opinion.

Imagery- Hutchenson’s planting at night in their nightgowns conveys that they are in such a great deal of pain that in order to console themselves they simply revert back to what makes them feel safe- farming. The narrator watches as they plant corn in their nightgowns in a somewhat ghostly manner almost representing death. Pg. 818: “It was a thing to curl your hair- it was so ghostly. They were both in their nighthgowns. They would do a row across the field, coming quite close to us as we stood in the shadow of the barn, and then, at the end of each row, they would kneel side by side by the fence and stay silent for a time.”

Symbolism: farmland and small town represent a connection to nature and a safety or escape. The city represents the dangers in society and the negativity accumulated into one area. The 1ts person narration creates a strong development of the characters that helps the reader to define the important relationships in order to understand what they represent in the context of American Literature. The symbolism adds an aspect to the story that relates to the theme of a connection to the Earth that is not better conveyed through other literary techniques.

Connections to Literary Movements:

How does the story connect to elements from Romanticism/ Transcendentalism, Realism, Naturalism, Modernism, and/or Post-modernism?


The story encourages a relationship with the nature and portrays the city as being a corrupt and dangerous place because it is unknown, or in a sense unnatural due to the technology and industrialization. Transition from Transcendentalism to Realism because it holds ideals from both. The occurrences of the time period such as war and industrialization affected the mentality of society and the literary movements that were still growing and developing.

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