The Superiority of a Farmer’s Life versus that of Coal Miner’s as Depicted in John Yount’s Hardcastle

Switch County, Kentucky, is the rural area depicted in John Yount’s novel Hardcastle. Once a peaceful, rural farming community, it was transformed into a coal-mining region during the industrial revolution of the early 1900s. It soon lost its connections to subsistence farming and traded in all its positive elements for the dirty downsides of coal mining. Although Yount honestly explores the difficulty of subsistence farming as opposed to the tempting security coal mining appeared to offer in the 1930s, he concludes that farming was still a better lifestyle. By way of the events and attitudes depicted in Hardcastle, he suggests that the industrial-technological modernity that replaced subsistence farming in Appalachia left its inhabitants lacking in a sufficient quality of life – specifically in joy, pride, and basic safety. By describing life in a coal town in detail and through the eyes of a well-developed character with whom the audience can easily relate, Yount posits anything – especially farming – as a better life than mining.

Though it was not easy making a living out of the rocky soil in Appalachia, many families were able to do it. Unfortunately, as the demand for coal rose, so did the demand for that land, thus it...

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