Booth Tarkington's Penrod

When and where are Penrod and Penrod and Sam set?
Given a reference to “the stockyards” and a European war, I would guess Chicago in 1914.

A google search turned up this: “Although the setting is not specifically identified (except as a city with a population of 135,000), it seems likely that the story takes place in Tarkington’s favorite location, Indiana, and may very well represent his hometown of Indianapolis.”

Not definitive, but maybe a good bet.

I read them as a kid. There are several Penrod books. I always figured that they were set in Indiana since Tarkington was an Indiana writer, and that the time period was between the Turn of the Nineteenth Century and the outbreak ofWWI. Penrod was published in 1914 and Penrod and Sam in 1916.

When Penrod almost shoots the crap shooter, Tarkington mentions a European war that I presume to be WWI. The cook says she might as well “be trying to cook in the stockyard” which I took to be a reference to the Windy City. Would Chicago and Indiana be part of a common urban area in 1914?

Any reasonable sized city in the Midwest during the early 20th Century had a stockyard. There were huge ones in Chicago, Kansas City, St Paul, Omaha and Cincinnati, but Indianapolis surely had one just like Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Dubuque and Des Moines. Often a stockyard was connected with a meat packing plant.

I have a vague recollection that one of the stories (each chapter was its own little short story) has an explicit reference to Indiana.

I thought stockyards were near rail centers and, for example, Indiana would have been service by Chicago. My mistake.

Thanks, I’ll keep an eye open for it.

In Chapter 10 of Penrod, he imagines being punished “upon the State House steps, with the entire city as audience by invitation of the authorities,” implying that he lived in the state capital, which Indianapolis is.

Hmmm, I thought the first Penrod was 1913. I noticed because it’s my dad’s birth year. My copy, which is missing, had stills from a movie included. I believe the movie was about 1914?

I loved that book! I must have read it a couple dozen times, continuing well into adulthood.

Okay, just looked it up. Episodes from the book are copywritten 1913, but the book as a whole seems to be 1914. The movie was 1922, so mine is a later edition.