Dunlap High School
Instructor: Chris Friedman
Analysis of Hod Putt
He robbed for money, not for bankruptcy! Like many, Hod Putt is a fictional character of his own poem in Edgar Lee Masters’ book Spoon River Anthology. Hod Put is a hard working but a poor man. He sees others who grow rich unlawfully, and decides to gain wealth by robbery. Unfortunately as for him, he accidentally kills a person while robbing him and is executed (which Hod Putt calls his way of bankruptcy). The manner in which Hod Putt sought solution to his unhappy life is greatly dependent upon his reasoning. Even thought there are many characters in the poem such as Anthony Findlay, that share opinions similar to Hod Putt, there are others, such as Calvin Campbell, who do not.
Considering that both Hod Putt and Anthony Findlay both take interest and importance in gaining more wealth than what is already available to them, their ideological viewpoints on good lifestyle is similar. Like Hod Putt, who decides to rob for money, Anthony Findlay puts property and wealth at a high priority (Masters 3,120). Anthony, as the narrator, states in his poem, “‘tis worse to loose money than friends” (Masters 120). By this, he clearly states that money is so important for making one’s life happy that it is enough replace friends and probably the love for others (Masters 120). It is in fact true that Hod Putt is poor and desperate and that he really needs money to live a happier life. However, had Hod Putt ever taken the time to think about how the robbery might affect him and the people he loved, he might not have robbed. Furthermore, if Hod Putt had not put such a high priority on wealth, he would likely have a second thought about harassing others and about how he is causing misery for another for his own pleasures when he decides to rob (Masters 3). Similarly, Anthony does not really care what others might have to face because of what he might do for becoming wealthy and powerful. The following quote made by Anthony, clarifies this: “I…Affirm that a nation can never be good, | Or achieve the good, | Where the strong and wise have not the rod To use on the dull and weak” (Masters 120). The two characters, Hod Putt and Anthony Findlay, may not share the exact viewpoints, but their viewpoints are in some ways, amazingly alike; this similarity however, may not be found in some other characters in SpoonRiver.
Seeing the fact that Calvin Campbell takes significance in what a person wills over how others are, his ideological viewpoints on earning a good lifestyle are in antithesis with of Hod Putt. Hod Putt, as mentioned earlier, is a hard working but poor man who decides to do robbery to become rich like the others that becomes illegally rich (Masters 3). This is not the way Calvin Campbell thinks however, as he actually tells one to forget about where one is born, what one is born with and in what manner the people in the society are living. He goes on expressing that all these factors are not the major factors to determine how one should live life, but instead it is the personal will which will decide that. Campbell says, “You may blame SpoonRiver for what it is, | But whom do you blame for the will in you” (Masters 193). One might question how Hod Putt’s views contrast with of Campbell. Even though Hod Putt is a poor man and has pretty much about nothing, he only looks at his life being negative and believes that others that are rich are always happy; if not that, he at least loses trust in himself that he can become happier if he wills and believes that because of where and how he lives he must, like some others, do things he once regretted, to become happier (Masters 3). Campbell would say no to this judgment for he mentions, as the narrator, in his poem, “Tell me how it is that | This plant draws from the air and soil | Poison and becomes poison ivy? | And this plant draws from the same air and soil | Sweet elixirs and colors and becomes arbutus?” Campbell explains that if flowers can end up become totally different in characteristic from the same soil and air, why can humans not become something different from their will in the same environment (Masters 193). Although difficult to extract out, the difference in their viewpoints on lifestyle exists.
Characters in Spoon River Anthology are diverse: some share same viewpoints like Hod Putt and Anthony, and some have opposing opinions such as Hod and Campbell. Looking at the poems, one can tell that these viewpoints are usually what shape a character, as it did with Hod Putt. It also plays a grand role on how a character views life and the world around them: positively, negatively, or with a mixed feeling. Calvin Campbell and Anthony Findlay would be good examples from the characters mentioned hear. Though they are from the same book, their diversity allows characters like Hod Putt to have Justification similar to Anthony’s and different from of Campbell.
Masters, Edgar Lee. Spoon River Anthology. New York, NY: New American Library, 1992.