In this passage from The Horizontal World, Debra Marquart shows her love for the upper Midwest despite the common negative opinions that most would first think about the region. While others would say that the region is dull and monotonous, Marquart finds her hometown as a place of great significance to her life. By her use of similes and allusions, she attempts to overcome the common negative first impressions of the Upper Midwest to show the reader its unique characteristics in a more positive way.
In North Dakota there is “a road so lonely, treeless, and devoid of rises and curves in places that it will feel like one long-held pedal steel guitar note. ” A “lonely, treeless” road would first seem to be quite negative. The world, “lonely,” gives off a tone of sadness while the word, “treeless,” shows that there is only open space. Although the reader would initially receive these words with a negative connotation, Marquart compares the road to “one long-held pedal steel guitar note.
One might find that one note would be uninteresting, but by comparing the road with a pedal steel guitar, something that the author might have enjoyed listening to, the reader can sense that the author has an appreciation for the long empty road. It is like listening to a song that is liked except one of those notes is held out. The note that is held out makes the song take more time, which means more time to embrace the song or in this case, the relaxing view of open land.
Marquart’s family has a relatively old history in the town of Eureka, and because she decided to explain the literal meaning of the word “Eureka” along with its mythical significance of the word the reader can conclude that she has a deep respect and love for the region. Marquart’s great-grandparents arrived in “what was then the end of the line – Eureka, South Dakota. Eureka – from the Greek word heureka, meaning ‘I have found it’ is… the word that Archimedes cried when he found a way to test the purity of Hiero’s crown. Her sentimental value is the factor shown in this quote. Eureka has a great significance in her life because it is the town that her great-grandparents traveled to to start a new American life around the late 18th early 19th century. Around this time people were continuing to move into untaken lands as Europeans crowded up in the east coast but this is where they decided to stop.
It was also the “end of the line,” so they might not have had a choice, but this is where many generations of her family grew up, and inherently there would be an attachment between Marquart and the land. The Upper Midwest can be seen as a dull and uninteresting place that is lonely and devoid of variation, but Debra Marquart finds the details of the region that are otherwise uninteresting, as unique characteristics. These characteristics including the empty roads and old towns are important positive parts of her life that she shares in her memoir, The Horizontal World.