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Poor White

town mcvey bidwell anderson

a novel by Sherwood Anderson, published in 1920. In the introduction to the novel, Anderson wrote that the actual ‘hero’ of the book was a small Ohio town, Bidwell, and that the people of the town, even the central character, Hugh McVey, the ‘poor white’ inventor, were additional. Hugh McVey, the shy telegraph operator, invents several mechanical items which are exploited by Steve Hunter who makes millions and establishes Bidwell as a booming industrial town. Despite his new-found wealth, McVey still finds it difficult to communicate with people, but eventually marries Clara Butterworth after she recognizes his worthiness. As prosperity reaches Bidwell, so it is followed by industrial struggles between bosses and labourers, and finally, McVey recognizes the corrupting effect that he has had upon the town and its inhabitants. The narrative is principally concerned with the devastating effects of the modernization of a rural Midwestern town, and the disappearance of a pioneer democracy as it is swamped by class values based on material wealth.

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