Monday, January 9, 2012

One of Ours (Pulitzer Winning Novel)

Claude sat down again almost lost to himself in the feeling of being completely understood, of being no longer a stranger…Claude sat alone for half an hour or more, tasting a new kind of happiness, a new kind of sadness. Ruin and new birth; the shudder of ugly things in the past, the trembling image of beautiful ones on the horizon; finding and losing; that was life, he saw.
One of Ours by Willa Cather won the 1923 Pulitzer Prize for the Novel. It is the story of a Claude, a young man from Nebraska, becoming his own person. I found the story melodic. Reading the novel felt like listening to music. Most of the story had a slow, but forward moving cadence.

Briefly, Claude is a sensitive young man, coming into adulthood before WWI. His parents send him away to a denomination college, instead of the state college he wants to attend. Just when he starts to enjoy school, his father puts him in charge of the family farm. He marries a woman who has no feelings of affection for him. Finally, he enlists in the Army, where he feels he is “somebody.”

I found reading One of Ours very peaceful, yet not the least bit plodding. Yes, there were gory scenes near the end of the novel, but the overall feeling was calm. The details and descriptions made the story worthwhile for me. There were many beautiful scenes of both Nebraska and Europe. The description of Claude taking the train on his wedding night has just the right details to create a feeling for Claude’s marriage. The two descriptions of Claude with cats help create other moods. Scene by scene Cather shows how Claude’s family slowly understands the extent of what is happening in Europe. Cather describes both the horrors of war and the beauty of Europe.

No comments: