Darby Families: Elmans, Jordans, Salmons

Fictional Darby, like real New England towns, is dominated by extended families, almost like clans, though not quite. The characters in these families move among themselves and among their neighbors, sometimes as allies and sometimes as adversaries. The three featured families in the Darby Chronicles–Elmans, Jordans, and Salmons–have conflicting values, histories, educational and financial circumstance. The result is politics. They are constantly jockeying for position in community.

What the families have in common is a love for the town of Darby, and for the most part they'll settle their differences with civility through the institution of the town meeting form of government. They live by the town's motto: Town Meeting Spirit 1753 to Doomsday. Another thing they have in common is that their feeling for community is constantly at odds with their passion for individuality. In other words, Darby is very much American town.

In the world I created, I see the Elmans as representing the aspiring class. They are constantly trying both to survive but also to prosper, to improve themselves and by doing so improve their world. They are, at heart, believers in the American way, even if they aren't sure just what that way is; indeed, they are constantly tinkering with their own psyches in hopes of improvement; of justifying themselves; of seeking out, finding, and reestablishing the old values of hard work, faith (in something), honesty and progress; they are the keepers of the flame.

The Jordans represent the contrarian class. They live almost instinctively, that is, without much conscious thought, in a manner that opposes current social norms and laws. If thisaway is the trend, they'll go thataway. They will either ignore or go against the fashions and beliefs of the times. They have no qualms about breaking rules set up by governments, but among themselves their code of "succor and ascendancy" is rigid, enduring, and specific. Every family member may seek "succor" (shelter and protection) from another family member, but must submit to the "ascendancy" of the granter of succor.

The Salmons represent the secure class. By virtue of their bank accounts, real estate holdings, family traditions, education and, perhaps most important, contacts with power brokers of the world outside of Darby, the Salmons are at the top of the local social and political structure. The Salmons and the other families of Upper Darby are secure in ways the Elmans and Jordans cannot fathom. They have high social standing, means to get their way (at least to some degree: no group has absolute power in America), but above all they have financial security. It's ironic of course that people who are the most secure often feel the least secure, since so much of their energy is expended in remaining secure.

Everybody else in town watches the machinations of these dominant families with mixtures of amusement, envy, and once in a while, even, gratitude.