The Worst Hard Time

The Worst Hard Time

by

Timothy Egan

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John McCarty Character Analysis

The publisher of the local newspaper, the Dalhart Texan. McCarty criticized Plains settlers who fretted over the Dust Bowl, believing that the storms were tests of character. He was also opposed to government assistance for suffering farmers. He liked referring to people on the Southern Plains as “Spartans,” due to his perception of their toughness. He created the Last Man Club—a written commitment among the most important men in the community that they would spend their entire lives in Dalhart. McCarty, however, left Dalhart in the 1930s for a better work opportunity in Amarillo, Texas. At the end of his life, he took up painting and frequently painted depictions of the storms, which he portrayed as “heroic” and “muscular.” McCarty was born in 1900, the same year in which Dalhart became a town, and died in 1974.

John McCarty Quotes in The Worst Hard Time

The The Worst Hard Time quotes below are all either spoken by John McCarty or refer to John McCarty . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the First Mariner edition of The Worst Hard Time published in 2006.
Chapter 14 Quotes

The sign at the edge of Dalhart— “Black Man Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on You Here”—was strictly enforced […] “Two Negroes Arrested”: the Dalhart Texan reported how the men, aged nineteen and twenty-three, had sniffed around the train station looking for food. They were cuffed, locked up in the county jail, and after a week brought out for arraignment before a justice of the peace, Hugh Edwards. The judge ordered the men to dance. The men hesitated; this was supposed to be a bond hearing. The railroad agent said these men were good for nothing but Negro toe-tapping […] The men started to dance, forced silly grins on their faces, reluctant. After the tap dance, the judge banged his gavel and ordered the men back to jail for another two months.

Related Characters: John McCarty
Page Number: 176-177
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Worst Hard Time PDF

John McCarty Character Timeline in The Worst Hard Time

The timeline below shows where the character John McCarty appears in The Worst Hard Time. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3: Creating Dalhart
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
John McCarty arrived in town in 1929. He looked like a young Orson Welles and was a... (full context)
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...between 1925 and 1930, another 5.2 million acres were plowed in the Southern Plains. John McCarty insisted that the town lay in “the best damned country God’s sun ever shone upon,”... (full context)
Chapter 5: Last of the Great Plowup
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
...prices. There was talk of building a college in the town, and newspaper editor John McCarty did not think that Dalhart would be affected by the troubles of 1929. Doc Dawson,... (full context)
Chapter 6: First Wave
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
It infuriated John McCarty to see that the one business flourishing in his beloved Dalhart was a whorehouse. He... (full context)
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
John McCarty worried about the survival of his newspaper. He had taken the paper from a weekly... (full context)
Chapter 8: In a Dry Land
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...took plenty of food in places where farmers were still trying to raise crops. John McCarty introduced the idea of rabbit drives and advertised them in the Dalhart Texan. People would... (full context)
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
...of prominent citizens decided to exhume him and move his body into Clayton Cemetery. John McCarty wrote that “Black Jack had his good points when you compare him with the rats... (full context)
Chapter 14: Showdown in Dalhart
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
John McCarty was dismayed by the image the country was getting of the High Plains through Fox... (full context)
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
Some people welcomed McCarty’s positive approach. He scoffed at Secretary Harold Ickes’ idea for relocation and condemned the newsreels... (full context)
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...twenty-six and left behind a baby, also suffering from dust pneumonia. In his newspaper, John McCarty exaggerated dusters in other states while minimizing the impact of those in Dalhart. He seemed... (full context)
Chapter 16: Black Sunday
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...the DeSoto Hotel. A nine-year-old boy wandered in, screaming that he had gone blind. John McCarty was reading a book when the page turned black. Dust entered his office and settled... (full context)
Chapter 17: A Call to Arms
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
John McCarty was furious with Roosevelt’s offer. In response, he formed the Last Man Club, designating himself... (full context)
Chapter 20: The Saddest Land
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
The Plow That Broke the Plains put Dalhart in the spotlight, but for John McCarty, it was the wrong kind of publicity. He furiously denounced the film as propaganda. Other... (full context)
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...building life back from scratch, “to create a place of interdependence, not a crop.” John McCarty tried to impress Bennett, showing him that Dalhart deserved a second chance. They were fighters. (full context)
Chapter 23: The Last Men
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...and a fence that had drifted. The painting hung in the Pan-American Exposition in Dallas. McCarty despised it, and wanted to buy it to burn it. A representative for Dalhart offered... (full context)
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
John McCarty had a surprise announcement: he was leaving Dalhart for a better job in Amarillo. He... (full context)
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...Dawson, Dalhart was a lonely place in his last years. He missed Dick Coon, John McCarty, and Bam White. He did not know the new people in town, who were mostly... (full context)
Epilogue
The City vs. the Country Theme Icon
...the XIT cowboys, and every year, the town holds a celebration in their memory. John McCarty never returned, and took up painting in later years—portraying “heroic” dust storms. He died in... (full context)