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In The Travel Habit, Travel Fiction by Aadi1 Comment

When depression strikes theres two options for the lower tax brackets: unify to persevere or turn against another and fall apart. Earlier readings like, “Waiting for Nothing” narrate the latter. Somebody in Boots, however, highlight what unifies us in dire times and what clearly does not. Previously, there would be a struggle between the “stiffs” or poorer people, and the police. In …

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The Power of Optimism and Hope

In The Travel Habit, Travel Fiction by AmarLeave a Comment

In Woody Guthrie’s Bound for Glory, he describes his journey from Texas to California, mostly hitch hiking, walking, and riding trains. A young man, he follows a letter from his Aunt Laura, sending for him and promising him some form of employment in Sonora. As a young man, Woody embarks on this journey naïve and optimistic, and lands himself in …

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Stream of thought exercise; several things I found interesting

In The Travel Habit, Travel Fiction by Kiril2 Comments

These were the first readings where it really struck me how badly we romanticize suffering, and poverty, and living life that way constantly. But more than that—that it isn’t completely our fault. Of course writers and movies and other media will tend to romanticize these things—but as far as I can tell, even the people living or who have lived …

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“Sister of the Road”

In The Travel Habit, Travel Fiction by Agne1 Comment

The story of Box Car Bertha’s life in “Sister of the Road” by Dr. Ben L. Reitman presents the life of a woman who has been homeless for half of her life. Bertha, who shares her story of living in the streets for 15 years, comes across as a very unlikely hero. Yet, in some ways, she is a hero. …

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“Cauliflower-Eared by the Brutal Truth”

In The Travel Habit, Travel Fiction by EsabelleYC1 Comment

“Sister of the Road” is the “autobiography” of Boxcar, or say, one Bertha Thompson. Her life story was told to and recorded by Dr. Ben Reitman. But of course, readers shall know that this “autobiography” is in fact a fiction written by Ben Reitman. This vivid autobiography recounts a rugged woman’s hard-living saga during the Great Depression, filled with misadventures …

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Racial and Economic Divides

In The Travel Habit, Travel Fiction by MelanieLeave a Comment

Upon reading Algren’s “Somebody in Boots,” I immediately picked up on the difference between this passage and other readings we have analyzed this semester. This was a time of extreme despair when most people could not imagine anything beyond their bleak reality, but reading this passage it felt so much worse than that. In “Waiting for Nothing,” Kromer often used simple, …

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Solidarity of the Hobos

In The Travel Habit, Travel Fiction by DennisLeave a Comment

The three different accounts document three varying experiences of hobos living during the Depression. In Somebody in Boots, the account is of a duo of an African American and presumably white boy traveling together. Sister of the Road details the travels of a woman who’s past had a terrible way of creeping up on her. Finally, Bound for Glory, tells …

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Somebody in Dark Boots

In The Travel Habit, Travel Fiction by SnacksLeave a Comment

Nelson Algren’s Somebody in Boots is one of the more unique readings we have done this semester. The story is another narrative of life on the frontier of the depression, although this one is told through a morbidly comic lens that the other stories have not been told, and through a dire use of characterization. This is not to say …

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Depressed Together: Finding Community in the 1930s

In The Travel Habit, Travel Fiction by MadisonLeave a Comment

Desperate times call for unity, banding together for the greater good. A divisive election, economic recession, or social crisis – community and compassion for others are common solutions to problems that shake entire nations. Whether you were a hobo or a more fixed individual during the Great Depression, you sought comfort in forming groups. Sharing, caring, and sympathizing are the …

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In The Travel Habit, Travel Fiction by Jaxx1 Comment

I was surprised to read Sister of the Road: The Autobiography of Box Car Bertha because I had never read a Depression-era text focusing on female hoboes. In fact, when I think of hoboes in the 1930s, I tend to think of men. I don’t know why. Possibly because the work I have read about the Great Depression tends to …

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A Shared Experience

In The Travel Habit, Travel Fiction by MichaelLeave a Comment

Nelson Algren’s Somebody in Boots casts light on what really unifies us and what surprisingly does not.  In our past readings, the authors have consistently pointed at a divide: a divide between miners and the educated, between the the police and the “stiffs,” and most notably the difference between the haves and the the have nots.  Algren’s story in unique …

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Beauty in the Death of Materialism

In The Travel Habit, Travel Fiction by Lu MawLeave a Comment

In the introduction of ‘Somebody in Boots’, it says how the author’s stories have a ‘sentimental romanticizing of those at the bottom of the social pile’ (Algren, pg. 320). And while Cass and Matches had a friendship/brotherhood that was very inspiring, the traumatizing event in the story made the idea of romanticizing their lives quite hard. This is ironic because …

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The Qualifications that Make a Person Worthy of Being a Person

In The Travel Habit, Travel Fiction by Veronica2 Comments

Nelson Algren’s “Somebody in Boots” depicts the life of an impoverished man, named Cass, during the Great Depression. His piece begins by describing the gathering of travelers, who Algren equates to the gathering of flies (Algren 320). By equating these travelers to flies, the writer implies that Cass views these travelers as annoying and dirty — characteristics associated with flies. …