One of Ours heart-tugging glimpse into WWI era

Cover of One of Ours by CatherIn One of Ours, Willa Cather brings exceptional literary skill and an unusual perspective to a story that many novelists wouldn’t find worth a paragraph.

The novel is about Claude Wheeler, a Nebraska farm boy in the years before World War I.

Claude doesn’t know what he wants from life. He’s irritated by his jocular father, his religious mother, his materialistic brothers, and the image he has of himself as inept, unattractive, and misunderstood.

Claude’s yearning for something that’s worth giving his life to leads to a marriage to a woman who knows very well what she wants. Their deplorable mismatch ends with Enid happily leaving Claude.

Without Enid, Claude has nothing to keep him in Nebraska.

Claude volunteers for service in France, the first boy from his town to put on the uniform of the American Expeditionary Forces.

Trench warfare in “the region of martyred trees” is glorious for Claude: It gives him purpose, companions who share his ideals, and a realization that he is a valuable member of his outfit.

Cather’s One of Ours didn’t make the bestseller list in 1923, but it should have. It’s every bit as entertaining as Black Oxen and The Dim Lantern and much better written than they. It well deserves the Pulitzer Prize in Letters it won in 1923.

One of Ours
By Willa Cather
Published by Alfred A. Knopf, 1922
Copyright renewed 1950
Vintage Books paperback, 391 pages
 

© 2014 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda Aragoni

I read. I write. I think. I make big ideas simple. I help teachers teach expository writing to teens and adults. In my free time, I read and review old novels.

One thought on “One of Ours heart-tugging glimpse into WWI era”

  1. Thanks. WC is a favourite of mine. Very powerful imagination and wonderful poetic prose. Thanks for bringing her to mind. Will have plenty to read on this blog! Regards Thom at the immortal jukebox.

    Like

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