The story is set in the 1950’s in Fort Repose, a small town on the Timucuan River in Central Florida. In the initial part of the novel, the writer emphasizes the extremely tense relation of U.S. and the Soviet Union by which both are in the brink of Nuclear power.
The news of world events that focuses between these two powerful nations created a feeling of nervousness in the people of Fort Repose though they can not do anything about it since things are out of their control. The mood and setting of the novel starts off low and depressing but gradually rises to end on a hopeful mode.
The setting is typically a quiet southern town but the serenity is superficial. There are three communities in the town that sets the attitudes of each community towards the others; the prosperous and typical whites of Fort Repose, the black community living on the outskirts of town and the Minorcans and poor whites living in nearby Pistolville.
The characters and settings attitude are typical South during 1950’s wherein there is an apparent segregation and discrimination.
B. Main Characters:
Randy Bragg- Randy is responsible for pulling together his family and neighborhood after the war in order to survive the disasters and unfortunate consequences that follow the nuclear attacks. From an easy lucky playboy, Randy turns into a hardened leader after he inevitably takes the responsibility to help his neighborhood survive.
Dan Gunn- Dan is a doctor and he is Randy’s best friend. He is considered a hero because of his selfless contribution to the community, as he throws himself into the difficult work of serving as a doctor to a community in turmoil.
Elizabeth McGovern- Randy’s girlfriend and who eventually becomes his wife. She is intelligent, attractive and resourceful. She often assists Randy Bragg in his service works.
Helen Bragg- Helen is the wife of Randy’s brother Mark. Mark, fearing dangerous wars, sends her to Fort Repose and moves in with Randy for her safety because of threats of war. She is strong willed and independent woman who also helps the community.
1. The group on River Road and their details.
Fort Repose community is no different from any other small Southern towns. It has its
Own gossips and it seems that everybody knows everybody. Initially they are described as the people who are uninterested in world events but rather more interested in entertainment offered by media. They thought that they can manage to survive to any kinds of difficulties with their farms and groves nearby but not until the war comes.
Randy Bragg and his neighborhood are the members of “on the River Road community”.
They primarily initiate to instill cooperation on the River Road as the main key for survival when the war breaks. Their actions, especially that of Randy Bragg, in the difficult days following the nuclear attack is responsible for the survival of their little community. Randy Bragg is a likable and noble man in the story whose initiative for his community’s survival made him a leader in the whole town.
Initially the novel introduces Randy as a failed candidate for political office and living off the profits of his family’s land and the occasional work as a lawyer in the small town in Florida.
But Randy Bragg in the aftermath of nuclear war between two nations take responsibility for his family and friends in order to survive through building a safe and sustainable community. Randy and his friends insure a supply of clean drinking water and food from the Henry’s farm and nearby River when the war breaks out between the two super powers and when the nuclear weapons destroy all of Florida’s major cities.
Dan Gunn, a doctor and Randy’s best friend, on the other hand that also belongs in this community continues to travel around the towns looking for patients, doing the best he can to help them with his limited medical supplies. Moreover, Randy and Dan collected and bury Pork Logan’s jewelry that came from the near contaminated city after discovering that a number of people suffer from radiation poisoning due to the jewelries.
Moreover as Randy acquires respect from the community, people follow him. A radio announcement declares that former Army Reserve officers are to assume responsibility for martial law in isolated areas, and Randy is a former Reserve officer, so he begins to post decrees and take responsibility for law enforcement.
In addition, Randy solves a crisis involving a lack of salt. He combs the diary kept by his ancestor, who founded the town, and finds a reference to a nearby pool with a plentiful supply of salt.
2. The group living at other locations and their details.
Basically, the people of nearby Fort Repose and its lower class suburb, Pistolville
involves in this category. These communities illustrate the segregated South of 1950s wherein there is an apparent discrimination and hostilities. Everyone looks down on blacks; the blacks and whites look down on what they considered “white trash” and untrustworthy minorities of Pistolville and the residents of Pistolville consider the whites of Fort Repose to be snobbish and arrogant.
These communities however are not the main focus of the story since it primarily concentrates around Bragg and his neighborhood’s approach to survival and isolation. But nonetheless these communities demonstrate a part of history’s reality about the problem of race, distinction, social class and inequalities.