All Roads Lead Nowhere

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All Roads Lead Nowhere

In both "Sawdust" by Chris Offutt and "Hunting Husbands" by Jo Carson, we see characters willing to go to great lengths to try and get what they think they want in life. Nonetheless, they appear to be trapped in an endless cycle, and it appears for them as though all roads lead nowhere. Despite the effort each makes to try to escape the life given to them, the battle they are fighting is one in which they seem destined to lose. "Sawdust" takes place in a small Appalachian community where people live very simple lives, and those who are born there rarely ever leave. "Sawdust" revolves around a young man named Junior who decides that he wants to try to pass the GED test, the equivalent to earning a high school degree. Junior feels that with passing the GED test, he will earn the respect of many throughout the community, and will have the qualifications needed to get a good job outside of the community. As we later find out, and to his surprise, quite the opposite is actually true. The story begins with Junior explaining that not a single person from his community, including himself, has finished high school: "Around here," Junior says, "a man is judged by how he acts, not how smart he's supposed to be" (Offutt 3). We first get a glimpse of what Junior's future has in store for him when we learn about Warren, Junior's older brother. Warren is a high school dropout who found himself a simple job that pays just enough to get by. He tells Junior that all he is good for is taking care of their mother. At one point in the story Junior describes his father's suicide and hints at his fear of ending up like his dad when he gets older. This is when we first begin to see that Junior is not like the other people of the community, and is not content with the life laid out for him: "Around here, we're mostly brown. I wouldn't mind talking to somebody of another color but they don't ever come around these parts. Nobody does. This is a place people...
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