Pulitzer Book Club Inclusion Guide
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"The Town" by Conrad Richter
• Janet Collins first Black prima ballerina
• "We Charge Genocide" paper about U.S. submitted to U.N.
• 22nd Amendment limits Presidents to two terms
Richter was born in Pine Grove, a small Pennsylvania town named by his great-grandfather. At age 15, Richter left school because he was "obliged to go to work.” Richter’s concern about the vanishing frontier, advancement of technology and his wife’s TB prompted him to move from Ohio to New Mexico in 1928.
Featured Reader Wanted!
– Share your key take-away about inclusion in this book in a sentence or two.
– Write a paragraph or two (up to 250 words) to describe your thoughts on exclusion/inclusion in the book, why you related or did not connect with the book, and why you think reading, inclusion and dialog about inclusion matter.
– Identify the name and website address of a cause you support with an inclusive mission.
Family’s pre-Civil war transition from log cabin settlers to townies.
Little feller Chancey runs away to his “real parents,” gets lost on the river.
Pioneer story that deals with infrastructure creation as well as social aspects of transition from log cabin isolation to community living.
448 pages or 13.5 hours that can feel a good piece longer cause of how people are a talkin’
Humility. Trying to impress doesn't. Don’t assume you know things you don’t.
Wheeler family reveals class dichotomies and prejudices: formal Bay State (aka Massachusetts) New Englanders versus woodsy founders with Native American heritage. Lots of judgement about where and how people live, who they marry, what they wear, where they live, how clean they are, how hard they work and what they do for a living.
This is going to be hard work as you have too many to feed -- nine living children and whoever else happens by -- and you’re prepping a meal in a log cabin without electricity or running water. Your ingredients are flour, sugar, salt, eggs, milk and possibly bacon or chicken. Use judgement about whether or not it’s wise to tell the children to drink rum and milk or watered down whiskey.
“Wasn’t it a strange thing about people in the world? Why they were themselves and you were the person you were….Wasn’t it the saddest thing in the world that you always had to be yourself, that you couldn’t be somebody else?”
Either a log cabin in the woods or a mansion in a town. If you’re fortunate enough to have access to the mansion option, meet in a room where not everything comes from some rich New England aunt’s home.
Talk about prejudices, political and religious views within the Wheeler family and how that affects their interactions with each other and with members of the community and runaways from slavery.
At the start of the novel, Sayward’s daughters are described in terms of physical appearance while the sons are portrayed based on what they do. Talk about the place of gender in the novel.
Compare the status of Portius, Aunt Cornlia, Sayward and Worth, Sayward’s father, Rosa and Chancey.
Talk about why Portius uses humor to deal with judge who throws Little Turtle’s case, to get the community aligned on where to place the bridge, and to swear in witnesses on a copy of “The Arabian Nights.”
How are Native Americans portrayed in the novel? What do people from “The Town” think about Native Americans?
How does Sayward feel when she moves from the log cabin into the mansion and how does her father feel when he is in the Sayward’s house? Talk about displacement from the perspective of people who immigrate to the U.S. What makes people feel welcome?
What do we learn from Sayward and Chancey and Portius about struggle of young people for independence and progress and views toward hardship and hard work versus comfort, ease, peace and progress.
Visit an Ohio pioneer town such as Caesar’s Creek Pioneer Village in Dayton, Sauder Village in Archbold, or Campus Martius Museum in Marietta, the first permanent Northwest Territory settlement. Learn about a public works project that’s underway near your town and observe the changes to the community being created by the project. Take a sleigh ride on a sleigh ride or get into a hot air balloon after a weapons search.
1978 “Awakening Land” TV mini-series
1952 “Pulitzer Playhouse “The Town”
1958 Disney’s adaptation of Richter’s “The Light in the Forest.”
“The Trees” (1946) and “The Fields” (1946) are the two books in Richter's “Awakening Land” trilogy that proceeded “The Town.”
The Sea of Grass (1937)
Pennsylvania State University’s Special Collections Library in University Park is the home to the Conrad Richter’s papers.