| Quote #1
Yet I had come in the degenerate day of trolley, bicycle and rural delivery, when communication was easy between the scattered mountain villages, and the bigger towns in the valleys, such as Bettsbridge and Shadd's Falls, had libraries, theatres and Y. M. C. A. halls to which the youth of the hills could descend for recreation. (Prologue.17)
This passage shows how Starkfield has changed over the past 24 years. It announces that technology and modernization will have a role in this tragedy.
| Quote #2
I had been sent up by my employers on a job connected with the big power-house at Corbury Junction, and a long-drawn carpenters' strike had so delayed the work that I found myself anchored at Starkfield-the nearest habitable spot-for the best part of the winter. (Prologue.18)
Technology and modernization are the very reasons the narrator is in Starkfield. This passage also points to increased concerns over laborers rights, and the rise of labor unions.
| Quote #3
Another day, on getting into my train at the Flats, I missed a volume of popular science-I think it was on some recent discoveries in bio-chemistry-which I had carried with me to read on the way. (Prologue.32)
Ethan seems to be in pain after he reads the narrator's magazine. All the pain and regret over his lost education must have come flooding right back. It also creates a connection between the two men that has a lot to do with the narrator eventually getting invited back to Ethan's home.