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Insecurity In Karen Joy Fowler's 'Heartland'

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Heartland by Karen Joy Fowler
"Heartland" is told from a unknown male narrator who details life in a ‘new Oz.’ The story follows his career at a fast food restaurant and the death of a co-worker. The narrator opens the story by discussing Willina’s death. She was his co-worker at the Emerald Arches, the fast-food restaurant where the narrator is employed. The story then progresses into Willina’s story and by extension the ways in which Oz has changed since the time of Dorothy. In "Heartland", Karen Joy Fowler examines feelings of insecurity and being left-behind, through the money or the lack thereof for various characters.
For many of the lesser-educated citizens, money or marrying money are the only ways that one is able to raise their quality of life and stop working a low-paying service job. For Willina this is no different, early on her affection for Tourists is shown. The narrator sees only genuine love in her eyes, but for the reader it is much more obvious, she sees him merely as a means to an end. The narrator even says that she was never able to see herself as small. Which means in her mind, she was deserving of what the Tourist could give her. Not in a way that makes her, entitled, but more that she always saw more for herself. At the moment Willina is leaving, the narrator realizes he never will.
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Wizard of Oz was written in a time where steam engines had become prevalent and factories were replacing workers. Fowler used this world, to draw comparisons to the world in which we still live. “Heartland” was written in 1988 right on the cusp of the Internet age, Fowler used Oz to prove the harmful effects of what might be coming. Both used worlds that were once ideal, to comment on the fall of our world. History repeats itself, and the writing of both Oz and Heartland prove that humanity doesn’t often learn it’s
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