If Tits Up in a Ditch is interpreted as a social critique then Dakota is both instrument and victim in the author’s indictment of society. Dakota is a character shaped by circumstance more so than any other factor. The author purposefully makes her a reactionary character that is shaped by circumstance and other characters rather than by her own free will; thereby steering our judgment against society rather than at Dakota. The story therefore becomes an even more poignant criticism of society because it bears the entire blame and it becomes easy to point out specifically the factors to blame for Dakota’s tragic life.
A good example of this is Dakota’s mother. From the very first paragraph we get a sense that Dakota was not born into the correct circumstances, she is abandoned by her mother on the day she is born. Our judgment of the mother is obviously harsh since we have no prior information on why she bailed. All we know are the repercussions of her action on Dakota’s life and future. The mother’s actions become impossible to condone. Dakota’s involvement in the army is another example. It leads Dakota away from her son and ultimately causes the loss of her arm. Yet, we do not blame Dakota for any of it. She is driven into it by her grandparents and her economic condition. Again, her future is shaped by circumstance rather than free will. Even the matter of fact style which the author uses induces us to believe that Dakota had no hand in how her life turned out at all. As said she becomes a victim of society, and therefore the instrument and evidence the author uses to criticize society.