The Town Pump by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Flipping through an old copy of Twice Told Tales Volume 2. (never, ever, ever “flip” through a twelfth edition copy of any book, ever) I found The Town Pump.

Unlike the Birthmark, The Town Pump doesn’t open with a lot of exposition. It reads more like a script than a story, which is appropriate since it is told from the point of view of one of Salem’s most underappreciated landmarks: the bus station.

Seriously though, The Town Pump is a fast paced read and it doesn’t take long to be sucked in by the personality and the ego of the titular “character”. The Town Pump begins by telling everyone how it is arguably the most useful individual in Salem. You can’t argue with the logic, since it was used to hydrate people, pets, and livestock at all hours of the day.

In the flow of the story, you’ll learn aspects of American history that are as relevant today as they were when it was written. For the daring street performer, this story even  offers plenty of opportunities to interact with any potential crowd you’d be lucky enough to draw within the flow of the narrative. It was almost as if Hawthorne intended for this story to be read before a crowd… hmmm.

For the devoted teacher who is struggling to get their students turned on to one of America’s literary giants, I would strongly recommend The Town Pump. It is to The Scarlet Letter what baby food is to a ten course meal at the Red Lobster.


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