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In Dean Cadle’s short story “Anthem of the Locusts”, Logan Roberts and Emily have a few things in common including their enjoyment of the noise that the locusts make during the summer in their Kentucky hills community. Most of their community find the sound annoying. Logan and Emily also have a physical attraction to each other that remains unfulfilled.
A big difference between the two is that Emily embraces and belongs to the community’s church life. Logan, while attending services occasionally, tends to stay on the outside of church life looking in. Of course, this difference tends to be the main reason for their unfulfilled physical relationship.
As this story was published in 1949, I envision Logan as a James Dean type character. Logan standing outside the church smoking a cigarette is a powerful image. I have to hand it to these Kentucky writers. They know how to bring tobacco smoking to great literary heights. I also find it interesting that Logan enjoys the music that comes from the church:
Logan sat on the porch listening to the singing long after the service had begun. The singing always sounded better in the camp than it did inside the church. The voices rose clear and musical, with the rising and falling rhythm of a stream tumbling over sandstone boulders in its swift descent down a mountain hollow, and flooded out over the camp like the golden voices of angels drifting through the nighttime; with the voices came the crying of the fiddle, and far down underneath, as though rising out of the dark earth of the camp, strode the unrelenting beat of a tambourine, not in time, not out of time, but setting a pace of its own that was a music to keep beat with the summertime pulse of one’s blood.
Cadle doesn’t portray Logan and Emily as extreme opposites – simply a relationship in which their society is a barrier between them. On which side is Cadle? The story itself is from the perspective of Logan so I feel there is at least a hint from Cadle that he sympathizes with him; however, Emily’s character is painted just as beautifully as the above description of the music but, like the music, she is being observed from the outside.
I read this story when I selected the Five of Hearts for Week 21 of my Deal Me In 2016 short story project. It is included in my copy of Home and Beyond: An Anthology of Kentucky Short Stories edited by Morris Allen Grubbs. According to Grubbs’ introduction to this story, Cadle’s stories have not been collected into book form. “Anthem of the Locusts” was originally published in Standford Short Stories. My Deal Me In 2016 list can be found here. Deal Me In is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.