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wild plums

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In Grace Stone Coates’ “Wild Plums” the reader is presented with two disparate families: one of class and privilege, an unnamed family of the story’s protagonist, and a family of meager farmers, the Slumps. The Slumps find themselves often living off of the land which includes plumming, a task that involves the collection of plums. The story’s protagonist, an unnamed little girl, always asks her family if she can join the Slumps but both her father and mother refuse to allow her to spend time with such a modest family. Because children lack class consciousness, one should be allowed to enjoy all that childhood offers despite who it’s spent with.
The narrator from the story, the nameless little girl, recognizes that her parents are not akin to the Slumps yet she doesn’t wholly understand the reasons for such a determination. One day she travels along with her father to the Slumps’ residence in order to retrieve a plow which was borrowed by Mr. Slump – having never gone to their home she adventurously tags along with him. For the first time she experiences with her own eyes the difference between the ways she lives with her parents and the ways the Slumps live. For example, the girl comments that the “Slumps didn’t use chairs. They had boxes to sit on,” which astonishes her because her family has the ability to afford furniture. The next morning the Slumps pass by to drop off the plow on their way to go plumming. They invite the little girl to go with them but her mother tritely refuses and Mr. Slump agitatedly drives the wagon towards the horizon. At this point the mother questions her daughter, asking “would you really have gone with those– with those persons?” The little girl knowingly endeavors to elude the question, but to her ...

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...a rural farming community in the 19th century South where accents are thick and homes are few and far between. The young girl’s family is privileged enough to own a buggy whereas the Slumps own a simple wagon. The Slumps have a dirt floor to which clearly exemplifies the poor living conditions that they survive in. The girl’s father not only owns better equipment but also has a shed to which he can store the items in to keep them from being exposed to the elements. The little girl acknowledges the diversities between their two lives but doesn’t consider the Slumps as inferior people simply because they live an austere lifestyle. Her concern, as far as she’s concerned, is that the Slumps sleep under the stars, pick plums, and make jelly: a task that is unfamiliar and exciting to her to which she can merely examine from afar with a desire to partake in the amusement.
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