In the Heart of the Heart of the Country Summary & Study Guide

Gass, William H.
This Study Guide consists of approximately 23 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of In the Heart of the Heart of the Country.
This section contains 495 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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In the Heart of the Heart of the Country Summary & Study Guide Description

In the Heart of the Heart of the Country Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on In the Heart of the Heart of the Country by Gass, William H..

The following version of this story was used to create this study guide: Gass, William. “In the Heart of the Heart of the Country.” In the Heart of the Heart of the Country. New York: New York Review of Books, 2015. 172 – 206.

The story takes place in a rural town in Indiana. The narrator gives few details about himself, but he seems to be a man in his middle age or older. He lives in a house alone, he owns a cat, and he appears to have suffered an unsuccessful romantic life. The town has a population of about 1,200, and the narrator begins by describing the various aspects of quiet, humble beauty in the town. However, he soon begins to discuss the less pleasant aspects of the town. He has an elderly neighbor named Billy Holsclaw who lives a life of isolation and aimlessness. The narrator depicts these elements as typical of life in the town. The narrator says that the town also suffers from a dearth of proper education and intellect. One of the other neighbors, an elderly woman named Mrs. Desmond, reminds the narrator of his own mortality.

The town appears to have originally been founded as a farming community. However, the town’s economy is in decline, as most business has centered around nearby cities. The narrator says that he often suffers from feelings of loneliness and aimlessness, and he generally occupies his time by writing fiction and poetry. The narrator believes that the town’s general moroseness is due in part to the often dreary weather. However, the narrator also points out certain advantageous aspects of the town, one of the most significant aspects being the rural town’s proximity to nature. The narrator contrasts the town with the idea of cities, which are generally cut off from nature. The narrator appears to believe that interaction with more natural environments is a vital part of the human experience.

The narrator believes that his own sense of sadness is due in large part to his unsuccessful romantic life, as he never successfully formed a lasting romantic relationship. The narrator dislikes the concept of politics, as he believes it is often used as a platform for reckless, uneducated people—such as many residents of the town—to express and exercise this ignorance and recklessness. The narrator describes the town’s social structure as being based in part around social clubs and hobby clubs. The narrator briefly discusses another of his neighbors, a man called Uncle Halley. Halley appears to have led a relatively eventful life, but the narrator still cannot help but associate Halley with the idea of impending mortality. The narrator nostalgically ruminates on his childhood in the Dakota countryside, and he concludes that the idea of an idyllic childhood is actually illusory. The narrator ends the piece by stating that Christmas is soon, and the holiday music in town seems to clash with the town’s generally melancholy atmosphere.

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