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Conclusion: Erosion and Retrieval: Poor White Identity and the Limits of Literature

In retrospect it now seems that two men, above all, stand for the contradictions thrown up when the New Deal met the rural depression. Both were intelligent, liberal, energetic and even courageous in pursuit of their different progressive visions. One, William Terry Couch, actually worked for the New Deal. It was he who came up with the idea of the Federal Writers’ Project life histories, and who later directed the FWP over the whole of the southeastern United States. The other, Paul Schuster Taylor, supported and worked so closely with the offi cials of the Farm Security Administration that he is usually credited as the chief author of another major New Deal project, the FSA camps for migrant farm workers in California.