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"One of Ours" by Willa Cather

One of Ours may be downloaded for free from our ebook catalog.

One of OursA winner of the 1923 Pulitzer Prize, One of Ours tells the story of Claude Wheeler, a young Nebraska man who is struggling to find meaning in his life. The novel is divided thematically into two parts. The first part is set in the Nebraska wheat fields where Claude works on his father's farm. The second part takes place in France where Claude serves in the American army during WWI.

There is a very different feeling between the two parts of the novel which demonstrates the duality of Claude's nature. In part one he searches for satisfaction through society's conventional pathways, such as school and marriage, but only finds disillusionment and frustration. In part two he finds himself in the most unlikely of places, the battlefields of Europe. Luckily, disillusionment with this newfound life never comes for Claude, so the ending is a happy one for him.

Cather is sometimes blamed for being too patriotic and romantic in her depiction of war in this novel. I do not agree. Cather is careful--as in all her writing I have read so far--to simply portray, neither condemning nor eulogizing. Only those who read carefully, to the very last pages, will realize that Claude's story was a small part of the whole story. There are many others that carry on in a parallel fashion given only given a sentence here or a paragraph there. But taken in context they show that Claude's story is just one, of many, of ours.


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