|Now||2019||Previous||Articles||Road Essays||Road Reviews||Author||Title||Source||Age||Genre||Series||Format||Inclusivity||LGBTA||Portfolio|
FF33FF: orphans in rural places surrounded by cornfields: 01/24/19
Now that orphans have gone home or left home in all the ways possible, we move onto orphans in rural place. The first method of travel is via the cornfield.
I have one exemplar for this category: Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel. The setting for this book is set in Slow Run, Kansas — a former farming area, now falling into ruin due to the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Callie lives there with her mother and they run a hotel that is seeing fewer and fewer guests able to pay.
When Callie's mother disappears, she gains the status of orphan and the abilities of orphan magic. In her case, the magic is real as she learns of her heritage as a half fae princess. She also realizes that her visitors are unearthly. They have come in on the winds the bring the dust, across the former fields.
In this situation, the cornfields were until the failure of the topsoil, serving as protection. Callie's existence needed to be kept secret and now that's no longer possible.
In most of the orphan stories I've analyzed the cornfield has served as a road away from the mundane to somewhere fantastic. As we move away from fantasy, the cornfield begins to transform into its secondary purpose, namely as a barrier or prison. This book is our first example of the cornfield as barrier.
That said, there are still other ways this trio could be constructed into a road narrative. For instance, if Dust Girl had been written from a fae's point of view, then the cornfield would have been a passage way, albeit one fraught with danger and uncertainty. If this were a post apocalyptic tale, the orphan could have been escaping from their regimented living via a cornfield or a tkaronto to arrive somewhere rural and forgotten. Another possibility is a rural town where people are disappearing through the cornfields never to return, until at least there is just one person left.
If you can think of other examples that fit this category, let me know in the comments.