One of Ours – Willa Cather
„One of Ours“ is the 1922 Pulitzer price winning novel of Willa Cather. Claude Wheeler was „one of ours“ who left his Nebraska farm to fight and die in the Great war. He was an eager, sensitive youth, to whose inarticulate longings life had brought no answer. In the world which seemed so catisfying to all around him he had never felt at home. Except with his mother and faithful old Mahailey. all his relationships had been disappointing and even between himself and his mother her narrow religious beliefs had made a barrier. His marriage proved the crowning disappointment of all. He lived on his prosperous acres in the midst of material plenty, hungry for he knew not what, longing to do something with his life. Miss Gather makes the war a means of release to his baffled soul. He went gladly, never questioning that the call was clear, the cause glorious. He found in Franice the youth he had never had, companionship, a meaning to life, and died before the disillusionment which he could never have borne …
One of Ours.
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Plot summary of One of Ours (from Wikipedia):
While attending Temple College, Claude tried to convince his parents that attending the State University would give him a better education. His parents ignore his pleas and Claude continues at the Christian college. After a football game, Claude meets and befriends the Erlich family, quickly adapting his own world perception to the Erlichs‘ love of music, free-thinking, and debate. His career at university and his friendship with the Erlichs are dramatically interrupted, however, when his father expands the family farm and Claude is obligated to leave university and operate part of the family farm.
Once pinned to the farm, Claude marries Enid Royce, a childhood friend. His notions of love and marriage are quickly devastated when it becomes apparent that Enid is more interested in political activism and Christian missionary work than she is in loving and caring for Claude. When Enid departs for China to care for her missionary sister, who has suddenly fallen ill, Claude moves back to his family’s farm. As World War I begins in Europe, the family is fixated on every development from overseas. When the United States decides to enter the war, Claude enlists in the US Army.
Finally believing he has found a purpose in life – beyond the drudgery of farming and marriage – Claude revels in his freedom and new responsibilities. Despite an influenza epidemic and the continuing hardships of the battlefield, Claude Wheeler nonetheless has never felt as though he has mattered more. His pursuit of vague notions of purpose and principle culminates in a ferocious front-line encounter with an overwhelming German onslaught.
(The text of the last section was taken from a Wikipedia entry and is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)
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