Study Guide

Hard Love Boston and Darlington

By Ellen Wittlinger

Boston and Darlington

John's dad lives in Boston, and his mom lives in Darlington. Even though these are just a short car-ride away from one another, they couldn't be farther apart for John. This is because the two cities represent two distinct worlds for him. One is his mom's domain, Darlington, a small town full of families, soccer moms, and suburban concerns—or, as John's dad puts it: boredom. He confesses to his son:

"I had to get out of there, John. It was home to her, but it was killing me. That small-minded community, everyone so concerned about trimming their shrubs, and growing their roses, and, and…" (6.24)

His summary shows us just how different Darlington is from the big city, Boston, where John's dad lives. There, it's all about the high life with fancy restaurants and swanky parties to attend. No wonder John's dad moves to Boston to take up his newfound bachelor ways. John's movement back and forth between these worlds shows us how different his parents are, a constant reminder of the fracture in John's life that leaves him reluctant to take root anywhere. With his life split in two, John prefers not to open himself much to either location.

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