The Worst Hard Time

The Worst Hard Time

by

Timothy Egan

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Verna Hartwell Character Analysis

A dressmaker and the wife of the failed farmer Don Hartwell. She and Hartwell owned a farm in Inavale, Nebraska, which they purchased in 1909 but had to give up in the mid-1930s due to the drought. Verna found work in Denver as a doctor’s maid, but her husband returned to Inavale after being unable to find work in the city. She returned to Nebraska to visit him on holidays. After he died, she found his diary and attempted to burn it, but a neighbor stopped her. The diary was given to the Nebraska Historical Society in Lincoln after she died, and has become an important record of the Dust Bowl.
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Verna Hartwell Character Timeline in The Worst Hard Time

The timeline below shows where the character Verna Hartwell appears in The Worst Hard Time. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 24: Cornhusker III
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
Verna, Hartwell’s wife, managed to take in some sewing work, but their electricity was turned off... (full context)
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
...wrote in his diary that he felt lost without his horses, and that he and Verna seemed stuck in a cycle of bad luck that would not end. The following week,... (full context)
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...but he did not have enough money to get to Denver. He spent Thanksgiving alone. Verna returned home for Christmas and stayed for a week. She made forty dollars per month,... (full context)
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...Hartwell also noted the start of the Second World War in Europe. For his birthday, Verna sent him a dollar. He used it to buy himself dinner at a hotel. By... (full context)
Epilogue
The City vs. the Country Theme Icon
...Man’s Land. Inavale, Nebraska, where Don Hartwell lived, is a ghost town. A neighbor stopped Verna Hartwell from burning her husband’s diary, which was turned over to the Nebraska Historical Society... (full context)