After reading “Shadows of the Canyon,” by Tracie Peterson. I realized that Peterson connected her story with some of the most critical events of 1923, such as, the death of President Warren G. Harding, The Iris Civil War had just ended, Women’s Equal Rights Amendments (ERA), the second Ku Klux Klan movement that stirred controversy across the region, and the world’s first domestic refrigerator.
These were some of the headlines of the year 1923 and Peterson does such a great job tying these elements together in her book. She introduces us to Alexandria Keegan and Rufus Keegan, a father and daughter relationship that is completely sour in all its aspects. For instance, the opening of the chapter starts out with Alex working in on one of her father’s indiscretion. Of course her dad makes light of the situation without considering his daughter’s feelings.
Overall, Peterson, portrays men as powerful and influential, with so much control over women. This speaks to the reason why women were fighting for equal rights in the public sphere, and the book presents women as the more docile and weak. There is a shift in women’s representation which goes in line with ERA period, which can be seen in the eyes of Katherine Keegan, who finally after enduring shame and hurt in the hands of her husband, had the guts to ask for divorce. This fight shows women getting out of their shells and realizing they too can stand up on their own feet, it symbolizes strength, a representation of the feminist movement. For example, Valerie Winthrop’s character is that of a woman who tries revolting against her male counterpart, in this case, it is Harper who represents men who saw women as objects they could use to satisfy their sexual needs.
Clearly, Peterson in this book, uses the refrigerator metaphor and she shows Rufus Keegan inside this refrigerator having sexual encounters with a young Harvey girl, this is an illustration of the cold-hearted behavior on his part., callous kind of man, who showed no remorse.
Again, I like the way Peterson is able to mirror the 1923 events with her characters. She takes the reader in the world of political games, which can be filthy as one can go, with money and power being the very motive to take someone’s life. Then we have the good old cowboy, Luke, who is respectful towards women. I guess the thing I want to point out here, is how Peterson juxtaposes the city man and the country man. The City man is very aggressive and always hungry for power, while the country man is portrayed as someone who is very thoughtful and is respectful towards women, material things to him are not a priority.
Then we have the question of religion, and how people question their beliefs when faced with tough situations. Also this is a way to ask the readers if they have reached out to a lost soul and helped out instead of standing on the sidelines, in other words it encourages humility in all of us.
All in all, this book is a book of morality.