Underpinnings of Injustice in "Under The Lion's Paw"

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About this sample


Words: 573 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 573|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Body Paragraph
  3. Conclusion


"Under The Lion's Paw," a compelling short story by Hamlin Garland, delves into the complex and multifaceted nature of social injustice experienced by American farmers in the late 19th century. Through the protagonist, Tim Haskins, Garland offers a poignant critique of the exploitative landownership practices that plagued rural America. This essay seeks to analyze the thematic elements and character dynamics in "Under The Lion's Paw," highlighting the socio-economic struggles embodied in the narrative. By examining the story's portrayal of power dynamics, the illusion of the American Dream, and the dehumanizing effects of poverty, it becomes evident that Garland masterfully exposes the systemic inequities within agrarian society.

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Body Paragraph

At the heart of "Under The Lion's Paw" lies a profound exploration of power dynamics, particularly how they manifest within landlord-tenant relationships. Tim Haskins, a hardworking farmer, finds himself at the mercy of Jim Butler, a manipulative landowner. Butler's exploitation of Haskins is emblematic of the broader institutionalized injustices faced by tenant farmers. Despite Haskins' tireless efforts to improve the land, Butler, driven by greed, raises the price once the land becomes productive. This shift in power highlights Garland's critique of the capitalist ethos, where the fruits of one's labor can be easily usurped by those in positions of authority. The story underscores the vulnerability of the working class, who, despite their industry and perseverance, remain subjugated under the whims of the affluent.

Furthermore, Garland's narrative serves as a sobering commentary on the illusion of the American Dream. The notion that hard work and determination inevitably lead to success is scrutinized through the experiences of Haskins and his family. Initially, the Haskins are hopeful, believing that their dedication will be rewarded with economic stability and upward mobility. However, the harsh realities of their socio-economic environment shatter this ideal. Butler's betrayal reveals the precariousness of their situation, illustrating how the American Dream is often inaccessible to those burdened by systemic inequalities. Garland's story, therefore, questions the validity of this aspirational ethos, suggesting that structural barriers frequently impede genuine progress.

The dehumanizing effects of poverty are another critical theme that Garland poignantly addresses. The Haskins' struggle is not merely a fight for land but a battle for dignity and survival. Poverty strips them of their agency, reducing their existence to a continuous cycle of labor and subservience. Garland's empathetic portrayal of the Haskins family elicits a profound sense of injustice, compelling readers to reflect on the broader social implications of economic disparity. The narrative vividly captures the emotional and psychological toll of poverty, emphasizing how it erodes the human spirit and perpetuates a cycle of oppression. Through Haskins' plight, Garland advocates for greater empathy and social reform, urging society to recognize and address the root causes of such systemic inequities.

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In "Under The Lion's Paw," Hamlin Garland presents a stark and unflinching examination of the socio-economic struggles faced by 19th-century American farmers. Through the character of Tim Haskins, Garland exposes the exploitative power dynamics inherent in landlord-tenant relationships, critiques the fallacy of the American Dream, and highlights the dehumanizing impact of poverty. The story serves as a powerful indictment of the systemic injustices that perpetuate inequality and hinder true social mobility. Garland's narrative remains a poignant reminder of the need for empathy, equity, and systemic change in addressing the enduring issues of social and economic injustice. By illuminating these themes, "Under The Lion's Paw" not only offers a critical historical perspective but also resonates with contemporary discussions on fairness and human dignity.

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Dr. Oliver Johnson

Cite this Essay

Underpinnings of Injustice in “Under The Lion’s Paw”. (2024, Jun 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from
“Underpinnings of Injustice in “Under The Lion’s Paw”.” GradesFixer, 14 Jun. 2024,
Underpinnings of Injustice in “Under The Lion’s Paw”. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Jul. 2024].
Underpinnings of Injustice in “Under The Lion’s Paw” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 14 [cited 2024 Jul 23]. Available from:
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