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Free Study Guide-When The Legends Die by Hal Borland- Free Book Notes
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Harold Glen Borland was born on May 14, 1900, in Sterling, Nebraska, to William Arthur and Sarah Clinaburg Borland. His father was a painter and an editor. When Borland was five years old, the family moved to Colorado in order to live closer to nature. As a result, Borland grew up outdoors; by the age of ten he had killed his first coyote and tamed his first bronco.

From 1918 to 1920, Borland attended the University of Colorado; he then transferred to Columbia University and graduated from the School of Journalism in 1923. After graduation, he served in the Naval Reserve. He also worked as a reporter, a copyreader, an assistant night editor, an editorial writer, a columnist, and a publicity writer for several magazines and newspapers. From 1937 to 1943, he was a staff writer for The New York Times, specializing in nature writing.

As he worked as a journalist, Borland began his literary career. His first fiction was written for young people and included Valor: The Story of a Dog (1934) and Wapiti Pete: The Story of an Elk (1938). From 1943 until 1960, Borland worked as a freelance writer. During this period, he wrote poetry, documentaries, essays, and Indian folklore. He also created two autobiographical works: High, Wide, and Lonesome, which was published in 1956 and won several awards, and This Hill, This Valley (1957). Borland was also awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Colorado in 1944.

In the 1960ís, Borland began to concentrate on writing fiction. In 1960, he published his first adult novel, The Seventh Winter. In 1962, he published another juvenile novel, The Youngest Shepherd. In 1963, he published the well-known When the Legends Die, which was made into a movie and translated into nine languages.

Borland also continued to publish his non-fiction. Beyond Your Doorstep: A Handbook to the Country appeared in 1962. In 1964, a collection of his editorials and essays was published under the title, Sundial of the Seasons; a second volume, An American Year, was published in 1973. In 1975, he published The History of Wildlife in America. His last published work, The Golden Circle: A Book of Months, appeared in 1977 and was awarded as an Outstanding Science Book. The following year, Borland died on February 22, 1978, in Sharon, Connecticut, where he had lived on a 300 acre farm with his wife, Barbara Ross Dodge; the farm included the site of an old Indian village on the Housatonic River.

Borland is remembered as a local color writer, largely because of his novel When the Legends Die, which vividly depicts the southwestern United States. He is also remembered as a prolific writer, having written and published more than 350 non-fiction articles, many of them about nature. As a result, he won the Meeman Award for Conservation Writing in 1966 and the John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing in 1968.


When the Legends Die, published in 1963, gives a sensitive portrayal of nature. In fact some critics have compared its author, Hal Borland, to Henry David Thoreau, the naturalist of Walden Pond.

The novel explores the close relationship between the Indian culture and Nature. Tom, a Ute Indian, is brought up by his parents to be self-sufficient in the wilderness. When his parents die and he is forced to move to a reservation, he feels like an alien in a strange land. He becomes a symbol for all the Indians in America who were oppressed and displaced by the white man.

Through the character of Tom, Borland reveals his keen understanding of the alienated and lost individual. Because of what Tom suffers, Borland stresses the fact that every man should be allowed to live his life the way he wants so that he can experience an "enduring roundness." Borland feels that most Indians in the twentieth century are regrettably not allowed to feel this roundness.

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