Arna Bontemps illustrates in his literary work "A Summer Tragedy” the terrible story of two old persons, Jeff and Jennie Patton, who take their lives in order to free themselves from poverty. The story was published in 1933, a bleak period in world history that is exemplified by the Great Depression, lack of jobs, drought and segregation. The story emphasizes some of the economic, physical and mental elements that had a great impact on Jeff and Jennie Patton.
The economic constraints are major elements affecting Jeff and Jennie's lives. The story emphasizes the difficulties that people had during 1930s. Drought represents one of the biggest constraints of people, giving the story the idea of suffocating. The order of the elements is not randomly chosen. It is meant to concentrate on the fact that people's lives, their farms and houses were gradually affected by the stiff nature. When the author reveals that "the sun was hot on his head, his collar still pinched his throat, and the Sunday clothes were intolerably hot. Jeff transferred the hat to his right hand and began fanning with it,” he tries to concentrate on the fact that even the weather opposes their right to live. People were poor and they were living with no hope for the next day to be better. As a result of these, there is no demarcation line, but one common factor to this entire situation and that is poverty. To illustrate this picture, the author indicates that ”among them were scattered scores of log houses like Jeff's, houses of black share farmers. Cows and pigs wandered freely among the trees. There was no danger of loss. Each farmer knew his own stock and knew his neighbor's as well as he knew his neighbors children.” They all know the situation, the routine that had already marked their lives, that they are poor, and that is the situation they are going to die. This fact can be seen in the description of Delia's house, an old lady condemned to the same poverty like the others.