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What, if anything, do you think the Osage-orange hedge stands for, in the book as a whole? What metaphors are at work here?

Created: 10/13/14

Replies: 8

Posted Oct. 13, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1358

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What, if anything, do you think the Osage-orange hedge stands for, in the book as a whole? What metaphors are at work here?

On page 392, Walter walks near the Osage-orange hedge: "Every year, Joe said, as Walter always had, that he was going to pull it up, but he never did—the roots had probably spread everywhere, and taking the thing out would be a major pain in the neck. There was always a reason not to bother. Walter touched one of the thorns. He was used to the hedge, but the thorns still seemed menacing." What, if anything, do you think the Osage-orange hedge stands for, in the book as a whole? What metaphors are at work here?


Posted Oct. 13, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dorinned

Join Date: 10/13/14

Posts: 35

RE: What, if anything, do you think the Osage-orange hedge stands for, in the book as a whole? What metaphors are at work here?

I think the Osage-orange hedge stands for the stubbornness and tenacity required to make a living on the farm in Iowa during the period covered in the book - 1930-1953. It was not an easy life, requiring hard work and patience, a love of the soil and working it, all the difficulties and challenges that a farmer must face to make a livelihood for himself and his family. The hedge represents the foundation of the farm; it is a challenge that is always there, waiting to be addressed, but with all the other more pressing needs of the farm, it may be cut back and trimmed, but will never be removed.


Posted Oct. 13, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
mainlinebooker

Join Date: 09/28/14

Posts: 7

RE: What, if anything, do you think the Osage-orange hedge stands for, in the book as a whole? What metaphors are at work here?

Dorinned, my thoughts exactly.


Posted Oct. 13, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
mystinamarie

Join Date: 12/19/12

Posts: 37

RE: What, if anything, do you think the Osage-orange hedge stands for, in the book as a whole? What metaphors are at work here?

I also thought it was a metaphor for the stubbornness and thick-skinned personality necessary to be a farmer. It also seemed to be a metaphor for the farm itself and a lot of the hard work required to keep it up and running. There is always more to be done and tasks that should be done in the future, but never enough time or money to tackle them.

I thought it was also important the part where it acted as a natural barrier for the livestock. Other parts with fences needed to be repaired or the cows would sometimes escape if they found a weak spot. But where the Osage-orange hedge was, they never bothered or escaped there, even though they could have by pushing through the branches and thorns.

This symbolized to me that even though there was fence keeping them imprisoned, they still treated this obstacle as real as the prison bars of a fence. Sure it would have snagged and been tough to get through the hedge, but it was still possible to leave it. The same goes for the life style and the farm. Nothing was physically holding the family there, imprisoned. But they chose to stay because it would have been menacing to leave those invisible hedges keeping them rooted there.


Posted Oct. 14, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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donnac

Join Date: 03/26/14

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RE: What, if anything, do you think the Osage-orange hedge stands for, in the book as a whole? What metaphors are at work here?

I saw the Osage-orange as a metaphor for family. Deep, far-reaching roots in Iowa soil, thorns that represent the bitter parts of familial relationships and life, inedible oranges that even so had a purpose (insect repellent) and a powerful barrier against the onslaught of intruders as well as keeping in/restraining those within its border.


Posted Oct. 14, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joanp

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 91

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RE: What, if anything, do you think the Osage-orange hedge stands for, in the book as a whole? What metaphors are at work here?

I think the Osage Orange represents the permanence and toughness of the land and the fact that man can bend nature to his will but can never truly conquer it.


Posted Oct. 15, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
susiej

Join Date: 10/15/14

Posts: 92

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RE: What, if anything, do you think the Osage-orange hedge stands for, in the book as a whole? What metaphors are at work here?

I agree with much of what has been said here, but I also thought it interesting that near the end of this book, we read that while Walter and Joe both have thought about taking it down, to do so would require more time and energy then they have or wish to expend. It remains, year after year, as the family has, and though some have left, they return on special occasions. It not only symbolizes the toughness of the family, the farming life, the land, it also symbolizes that they do not or cannot or will not let go of it - even as they leave to go to other places, the family, life and land go with them.


Posted Oct. 24, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
malindan

Join Date: 05/10/12

Posts: 48

RE: What, if anything, do you think the Osage-orange hedge stands for, in the book as a whole? What metaphors are at work here?

I agree with pretty much what everyone has said but susiej made a point that I agree with....the fact that it represents the fact that the family remains intertwined whether they leave the farm or not. It represents the family's past and history,something that is what made them all who they are.


Posted Oct. 24, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
darylb

Join Date: 06/23/13

Posts: 90

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RE: What, if anything, do you think the Osage-orange hedge stands for, in the book as a whole? What metaphors are at work here?

I think the Osage-orange hedge symbolizes the permanence of the family farm. It survives all the good and bad things that befall it and continues to grow. Both Walter and Joe contemplate tearing it down as they both consider leaving their farming lives.


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