ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Witch Hunts in America

Updated on March 1, 2013

Book Review: Last Days of Dogtown

Diamant Anita. The Last Days of Dogtown. Simon & Schuster, 2006.

The Last Days of Dogtown, penned by the author of The Red Tent, Anita Diamant, contains a stylized and stereotypical shanty town. It is a town that was to have existed on Cape Ann, Massachusetts around the early 19th century. It is a town ripe for witch hunts.

Dogtown is its name - named for a long standing pack of feral dogs that ran the streets of the village. The town itself is full of drunks, prostitutes, orphans, crusty old maids, down on their luck losers, and freed ex-slaves. All the townspeople struggle with the injustices and heartaches that have crippled them.

Those who can do so have already forsaken the town for greener pastures and happier days. Those remaining watch their numbers dwindle in the constant parade of funerals in the town. In modern times, singer Jerry Lee Lewis alluded to this trauma as always "passing the caskets."

Black Ruth, is an African woman in Dogtown that dresses as a man and rarely speaks. Judy Rhines is a depressive cast out of the home by her father at the age of eight. Cornelius Finson is an ex-slave that Judy loved long ago. Oliver Younger is one of the oddly few remaining children in Dogtown. The population is becoming extinct. The town is dying. It is all a prison of secets of abuse. The author breathes sure life into the characters in her town of dogs. The dogs even have personalities. It is a fascinating read as Diamant shows how these people and these dogs survive.

Rumors...
Rumors...
Judy Rhines looks at how time has changed her in the looking glass.
Judy Rhines looks at how time has changed her in the looking glass.

The purpose of the novel is to express the declining level of morality in American society during the early 1800s and today, by analogy. This was the time in which my great grandfather grew up to fight in the American Civil War. He died and his son had to leave school at the age of 8 to work on the farm, so I can relate to the Judy Rhines characterization. My grandfather was run as far to ground as she was and I can understand her life's grief.

Diamant portrays Dogtown as providing a harsh, cruel, but thought-provoking life amid poverty and the practice of witchcraft. Residents in the "last days" [like the "Last Days" of the church on earth?] are oppressed by ignorance, by sickness and disease, and by racial inequality. It is a dying town being killed under the torture of a kind of cancer of the spirit and soul. People seek refuge form the outside world in Dogtown, just as the dogs sought refuge form starvation and death. In Dogtown, the citizens might no longer be hurt by the forces and issues that attacked them out there.

As the curs of Dogtown roam quickly to and fro, so spread the rumors amongst the townspeople - rumors of witches and fallen women. In this premise, The Last Days of Dogtown is similar to Arthur Miller's play The Crucible that examines both the Salem witch hunts and the McCarthy Era anti-communist witch hunts. Much as in the Cold War of 1950s America, everyone in Dogtown decided to snoop on everyone else in order to get the dirt on them and preserve their own lives. It is surprising that the dogs weren't spying as well. Large companies in the 1950s told their employees to take notes on the activities of their neighbors and they did so - I saw large notebooks full of the stuff. The same thing occurred in Dogtown via wagging tongues instead of wagging pencils. Tongues wag and dogs' feet run. Both represent the fast spread of cancerous thoughts via ignorance.

Slavery and indentured servitude - physical as well as to stereotype and inertia; superstition, alcoholism, poverty, sensuality, misplaced and misunderstood sexuality, prostitution, and racial prejudice appear in Dogtown to indict America as an immoral society. Through all this, the citizens of Dogtown hunker together as a pack, like the wild dogs in the streets, for protection in numbers and even to love as best they can.

Throughout all the negatives, there remains the human spirit that wants to survive and seek a better life. Judy Rhines nurses her old love when he turns up very ill, until he finally dies. She can no longer stay in an area that promotes death and flees to Boston, but she did a compassionate good turn before she left.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • uglydawg profile image

      uglydawg 

      10 years ago from Vancouver, WA

      a well written and well thought out review.... I will be reading this book. thank you.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I hope you like it very much.

    • gabriella05 profile image

      gabriella05 

      10 years ago from Oldham

      It is for me another book on my list

      Thank you Patty

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      What an amazing coincidence. I hope you enjoy it!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      10 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Patty! My youngest is a reader and I just found 'Last Days of Dogtown' on her bookshelf. I will read it next and let you know how I liked it.

      Thanks for a good suggestion

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thank you friends! The Red Tent is very good as well.

      I was rather stunned by this story, William. Tidbit, I'm glad you stopped by and like the review. Abhinaya - thanks for the nice comment. My writing is certainly improving on Hub Pages - a great venue.

    • profile image

      Abhinaya 

      10 years ago

      You have a great way of presenting reviews Patty.Thanks for this and I think need to read this one.

    • Tasteful Tidbit profile image

      Tasteful Tidbit 

      10 years ago

      I'm always looking for a good book to read. Thanks for the review.

    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 

      10 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Wow! Not everybody lives "The Life of Riley!"

    • profile image

      Wehzo 

      10 years ago

      Great Review! I will definitely be getting this book. I read 'The Red Tent' about 4 months ago. It was a very good read. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)