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The setting of a novel consists of two different parts: the actual places where events take place and the timeframe those take place in.
"Half Broke Horses" takes place in various parts of the USA, mostly in Arizona, Texas and Chicago. However, there are far more locations in the novel. We will focus on the most important ones here. The places constantly change since Lily's family (her parents and siblings, as well as the one she has with Jim) is always on the move.
The storyline starts in West Texas which is the first home of Lily. Here, Lily receives some kind of education via homeschooling through her father. In turn, she teaches her brother and her sister what she has learned and hence, shows first ambitions to become a teacher.
The city stands in a stark contrast to everything Lily has ever seen, e.g. ranches, dryness, flash floods, tornados. Chicago differs massively from the other places Lily visits. Chicago is set in the midwest and is considered the windy city with hard winters. For Lily, Chicago represents a whole new world: a bustling city, infinite possibilites, a high school diploma awaits her and she receives her first lipsticks. A lot of unfortunate events take place in Chicago: When she first moves there, she becomes friends with Minnie who later dies while working at a factory. Then, she falls in love with Ted Conover whom she eventually marries. After being hit by a car, Lily discovers that Ted is already married and that he stole her money. Due to those happenings, she flees Chicago and moves back to the ranch.
- Red Lake
Red Lake is very different from Chicago, it is smaller, it is located in one of the hottest areas and offers a lot less opportunities for Lily - yet, it is also a location of many occurrences. Here, Lily gets her first job as a teacher and the second time she returns, she becomes friends with Rooster and Jim. After one year already, Lily and Jim get married and run a garage in order to earn money until they are offered to running a ranch in the Arizona countryside.
Here, Jim and Lily start a family and Rosemary and Little Jim are born. It is also where starts with her flying lessons. Rosemary starts her family there as well by marrying Rex and by giving birth to Jeannette Walls.
"Half Broke Horses" takes place over a rather long time span. At the beginning of this novel, Lily is born and towards the end of the novel, she is 55. Since she was born in 1901, the storyline must take place between 1901 and 1956. This time period is characterized by the WW1 and WW2. These events interfere with the life on the farm but have an overall impact on Lily's life. Due to the wars, Lily gets the unique chance to become a teacher even though she hasn't finished high school because teachers are lacking. In addition, Jim has to leave for war at one point. Yet, one of the ranch workers was not conscripted due to the fact that he had his foot run over by a train. Moreover, the time period covers the technological and economic progress humanity made - from horse-drawn carriages, to the Model T Ford to biplanes.
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