Hamlin expresses love for his beloved Green Coulee, nestled in the hills of Wisconsin, the poetic influence this had on growing up in this land, and the characters of his grandparents who originally settled in these parts. He is a blend of the McKlintock’s country nature, and the refined educated Garland’s, who migrated from the East, in Maine. He appreciates the literary background handed down to him from his father Garland’s Pilgrim ancestry.
A noticeable theme, however, in Garland’s story, is his great appreciation and sympathy for the life his mother has to lead, and her ‘silent dignity’. A McLintock, for Hamlin his mother embodies the Celtic culture. She is a ‘wordless poet, a sensitive singer of sad romantic songs.’ He is aware of the the injustices she must endure as a married woman. She has no choices, no say, but simply does what needs to be done to serve the the farming family. Yet, she does have a say in the raising of the children, and guiding their moral instincts.
The injustices Hamlin’s mother endures in his eyes, happen first when his father goes off to fight in the Civil War. Ironically, Hamlin views this as a desertion of his family, and misplaced heroism, rather than a duty to Mother Country.
What sacrifice- what folly! Like thousands of others he deserted his wife and children for an abstraction, a mere sentiment for a striped silken rag- he put his life in peril. For thirteen dollars per month he marched and fought, while his plow rusted in the shed and his harvest call to him in vein…
Dim pictures come to me. I see my mother at the spinning wheel, I help her fill the candle molds. I hold in my hands the queer carding combs with their crinkly teeth, but my first definite connected recollection is the scene of my father’s return at the close of the war.
With my interest in emigration to and within the United States, derived from my own parent’s families, who came from first emigrant backgrounds of Puritan, and New World French Quebec, I am intrigued with Hamlin’s poetic view of his world, and how his being a product of a ‘heroic westward movement,’ informs his literary creativity. He uses this fountain of inspiration to brilliantly carry on with a first person story as “A Son of the Middle Border.” Let’s see what happens next.