The Analysis Of The Novel “Storming Heaven” By Denise Giardina

April 8, 2022 by Essay Writer

The novel entitled Storming Heaven by Denise Giardina is an enlightening historical novel based in Annadel, West Virginia, a town that relies on coal to make a living, while also outlining the events leading up to the Battle of Blair Mountain. Things begin to take a turn when a ruthless coal company comes to steal the land from innocent individuals and oppress hardworking people that dedicate their time to the mines. Storming Heaven accurately shows the struggles that those in rural Appalachia faced just to keep themselves and their families fed after this coal company took over through four individuals, a mayor, a labor activist, a nurse, and an immigrant who lost four of his sons to the coal mines.

The story begins with railroad agents trying to force CJ Marcum’s grandfather off of his own property, however, failing to do so, the agents in turn end up brutally murdering Marcum’s grandfather. Later, a sheriff then tries to convince Marcum that his grandfather gave into the agent’s requests, and signed off on the property, Marcum however, knows better than this. Despite Marcum knowing that his grandfather was illiterate, and it was impossible that he signed his own name, he and his family are forced to move off of the property. Although some are forced off of their own property, and their homes are taken and destroyed like Marcum’s as a result of these coal companies moving in, Carrie Bishop’s family, who runs a farm called Homeplace, are lucky to have their land and their farm untouched by the ruthless companies. As the company begins to settle in, it begins to hire more and more individuals in the town, building camps for their workers to live in.

Rondal Lloyd, who grows up in one of the coal camps, describes the brutal work conditions and the poverty those who live in the coal camps face. The workers are constantly in debt from paying board at the coal camps, plus the prices at all the company store where they are required to buy stuff at, are inflated. Meanwhile, the workers are forced for work long hard hours, and the camp is constantly covered in black coal dust. Lloyd, beginning to realize that the workers are treated poorly, joins a labor union and runs the risk of being treated even more brutally. Meanwhile, Marcum becomes the mayor of Annadel and tries to advocate for the rights of the citizens who are working in the mines.

Later on, the reader is introduced to a Sicilian immigrant Rose Angelelli, an old woman who is determined not to see any more men die due to coal mining, due to the fact that she lost all four of her sons to it. As the awful conditions of the coal mines continue, many workers reach their breaking point and join the labor union. As they do so, they are faced with oppression and violence from the company bringing in armed forces to evict, torture, and even murder some who are just trying to fight for their rights. This only makes the workers more determined to change the ways of the unforgiving coal companies. As the brutal violence continues, the Battle of Blair Mountain begins, and didn’t end until the Army intervened to end the battle.

Although the workers fought and endured suffering unimaginable during this battle, it ended in a loss. This set the precedent for many more labor union strikes to come in America. Storming Heaven brought out the real sufferings those in Appalachia endured, while also showing the persistence of hardworking people who were rewarded with debt and torture. A remarkable novel that shows the journey of labor unions and the rights that those who work in potentially dangerous environments gained today.

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