Garlin in “Under the Lion’s Paw” and Bellamy in Looking Backward each paint pictures of America tailored to their “political” views, clearly influenced by much of the Populist movement of the time. Garlin’s world of Midwest farming, while not having the same overtly politically socialist message as Looking Backward, sets the stage for much of the political sentiments of the time, focused around the idea that the banking system is causing farmers’ poverty in many ways. Even though the banker of the town, Butler, is described as being “one of the ‘easiest’ men in town,” (p. 135), he still ends up screwing over Haskins in the end by doubling the price of the farm because of upgrades Haskins himself made to the property. This idea of bankers too easily having the ability to destroy the lives of farmers is one of the root philosophies behind much of the Populist movement, and is illustrated very deliberately by Garlin to make this point.
Bellamy’s political socialist influence are much more obvious to the reader. After setting up a character relatable to readers, most of the rest of the novel is devoted to what is essentially describing his view of a socialist utopia. Whereas Garlin paints a Populist picture of the state of affairs of contemporary America, Bellamy shows how the Populists’ ideas can be transformed into a utopia from the same world in which Garlin writes. As this utopian future exists over 100 years after the writing of the novel, leaps further than Populists were campaigning on were reached; namely, Bellamy’s world includes complete public ownership, or a perfect communist system nation-wide, even spreading to other countries as well. Both of these readings remind me of Marx’s views. Garlin sees the dangers that capitalism has on the less fortunate, while Bellamy sees the end goal of communism once those dangers are realized by the masses.