You are of me, Loreda, in a way that can never be broken. Not by words or anger or actions or time. I love you. I will always love you.
A feeling of melancholia looms through the pages of Kristin Hannah‘s ‘The Four Winds’. The author brings forth devastating hardships the winds of drought-stricken Southern Plains brought each day. The foundation of this plotline lies in the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s. The dust storms were a consequence of over-cultivation as the dry period set-in in Texas, Colorado and Mexico leading to depression.
The story begins with a fragile young, Elsa ostracised by her parents after being impregnated by Rafe. Elsa’s in-laws, the Martinellis, albeit being reluctant at first, slowly accept her and shower love which was absent during her childhood. It doesn’t take time for Elsa to forge a profound relationship with Rafe’s parents, Tony and Rose.
As the dust storms begin, we see every farmer praying for rain while deliberating to leave their land behind to start a new life in big cities. From a macroscopic lens, we witness rising poverty in these areas. Hannah ensures the harrowing details of dust storms aren’t lost on the readers. Like, children dying from dust pneumonia, eyes being crusted shut if one slept without the gas masks or witnessing beloved farm animals die a slow and painful death due to lack of food/water.
It wasn’t the fear that mattered in life. It was the choices made when you were afraid. You were brave because of your fear, not in spite of it.
Despite catastrophic times, I was taken aback by humanity’s ceaseless optimism that propelled them to fight against nature. It was this hope which also forced them to leave their land behind and reluctantly migrate to cities for better opportunities.
The influx of migrants in big cities led to job scarcity in the market and widespread disease. This was followed by the exploitation of migrants by the government and employers.
This cross-generational and decade-spanning tale focuses on each woman’s bravery and unwavering determination to protect her kin. Irrespective of her background and upbringing- while being shut down by society- she continues to persevere. And, when push comes to shove, she survives.