Literature Study GuidesLife In The Iron Mills

Life in the Iron Mills | Study Guide

Rebecca Harding Davis

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Life in the Iron Mills Study Guide." Course Hero. 15 Mar. 2019. Web. 13 July 2020. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2019, March 15). Life in the Iron Mills Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved July 13, 2020, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2019)



Course Hero. "Life in the Iron Mills Study Guide." March 15, 2019. Accessed July 13, 2020.


Course Hero, "Life in the Iron Mills Study Guide," March 15, 2019, accessed July 13, 2020,



Rebecca Harding Davis

Year Published



Short Story



Perspective and Narrator

An unnamed narrator tells the outer story, or narrative frame, in the first person, while relating the primary story of Hugh and Deborah mainly in the third person.


"Life in the Iron Mills" is narrated in the past tense except for a narrative frame, which opens and closes the body of the story and is told in the present tense. The unknown narrator is presumed to be someone (possibly divine) present during the action of the story.

About the Title

Taken at face value, the title is a simple descriptor of how immigrants to the Appalachia region lived in an industrial town in West Virginia in the 19th century. The title holds a certain verbal irony, as Davis illustrates in the story that the "puddlers" who heat and stir iron in the iron mills are living such meager existences that they can barely be deemed living at all. The subtitle, "or The Korl Woman," relates to the female figure sculpted by one of the workers, which represents the human yearning for worth.


This study guide for Rebecca Harding Davis's Life in the Iron Mills offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

Buy this book from
Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Life in the Iron Mills? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!

Stuck? We have tutors online 24/7 who can help you get unstuck.
A+ icon
Ask Expert Tutors You can ask You can ask You can ask (will expire )
Answers in as fast as 15 minutes