Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Way West (Pulitzer Winning Novel)

Again he felt greatness, smallness and greatness both among such wild riches. And, seeing the (wagon) train winding behind him, he thought with pride of it, of the onwardness of its people, of their stubborn, unthought-out yondering. 
The Way West by A. B. Gutherie helps bring the time of the Oregon Trail to life. This 1950 Pulitzer winning novel follows a wagon trail from Independence Missouri to Oregon. It gives the readers glimpses of what this experience must have been like for these pioneers: the hardships, the dangers, the beauty, and, yes, the conflicts.

I was especially touched by how women endured the trail. They left their homes, where they had a certain amount of security, for a life of hardship. Not only did they have to do most of the chores that they had done in Missouri, without the “conveniences” of a house, but they also had to help with the wagons. Many of them were pregnant. A wandering child could easily meet with death. In one poignant scene, Gutherie describes the worn hands of a woman who had once done fine needlework.

I sometimes forget how hard won this Atlantic to Pacific coast United States is. I often think of the military, but I seldom think of all the pioneers. This book helped me to feel grateful for their sacrifices.

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