May 4, 2008

Empire Falls Discussion Question: More on small towns

Posted in Empire Falls tagged at 9:20 am by Ms. Davis

What does Empire Falls provide that its residents might not be able to find anywhere else? Does living in a small town necessarily limit the satisfaction people get out of life? Is Miles right when he thinks, “After all, what was the whole wide world but a place for people to yearn for their hearts’ impossible desires, for those desires to become entrenched in defiance of logic, plausibility, and even the passage of time” [p. 295]? Which characters might have led better, more fulfilling lives if they had moved away from Empire Falls?



  1. cakequeen2 said,

    I am going to try to blog this comment again…..

    People are limited only by what they’ll allow themselves to be limited by. An urban jungle could be as limiting as a small hamlet. Empire Falls provides its residents with the ability to remain stagnant, and never venture “out”;that might be disappointing. Better to stay in one place and be miserable without ever taking a risk. Miles believes that the whole wide world is a place where there is no room for desires, and where one can only be hurt. There’s a saying “He is happily unhappy”, and this definitely describes Miles.
    The risk of satisfaction is too great, and the residents of Empire Falls remain “happily unhappy” wiht their lot in life.

  2. cakequeen2 said,

    Hey readers……..are you out there? Get writing!!

  3. Ms. Davis said,

    Wow, Gloria. I totally agree with your comment. I have never heard the phrase “happily unhappy,” but it makes perfect sense. Reaching out and grabbing happiness can sometimes be risky, but you have to take that risk I think. Being in a small town compounds this problem for many people because they really have to reach OUT. It is easier I guess to complain about wanting happiness than to actually go out and get it.
    Empire Falls provides its residents with a sense of belonging. Everybody knows everyone else’s business, and while some people find that highly irritating, others feel a definite sense of power. Living in a small town certainly does not limit the satisfaction people get out of life – if you that is where you want to be. For someone who wants to be exposed to other things, a small town could be limiting if s/he is unwilling to travel. I guess what it comes down to is that you have to be willing to go get what you want, regardless of where you live. Easier said than done, however.

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