One of Ours is Willa Cather sPulitzer Prize winning novel about the making of an American soldier Claude Wheeler, the sensitive but aspiring protagonist, has ready access to his family s fortune but refuses to settle for it Alienated from his uncaring father and pious mother, and rejected by a wife whose only love is missionary work, Claude is an idealist without ideals to cling to Only when his country enters the Great War does he find the meaning of his life


10 thoughts on “One of Ours

  1. Jaline Jaline says:

    This novel is fascinating for many reasons Published in 1922, Willa Cather won the Pulitzer Prize in 1923 and it was well deserved.One of the fascinations for me is that people are people are people Although there was a gentler andpolite tone within and between people, they still had the same thoughts and feelings and wonderings as people in our current times.Willa Cather s writing has a way of discovering the inner depths of people and through their thoughts and impressions, we feel t This novel is fascinating for many reasons Published in 1922, Willa Cather won the Pulitzer Prize in 1923 and it was well deserved.One of the fascinations for me is that people are people are people Although there was a gentler andpolite tone within and between people, they still had the same thoughts and feelings and wonderings as people in our current times.Willa Cather s writing has a way of discovering the inner depths of people and through their thoughts and impressions, we feel their feelings and experience their thoughts One of the old timers who had settled this area of Nebraska many years ago had watched the farms emerge one by one from the great rolling page where once only the wind wrote its story Much of this book centres on and through Claude s life his experiences as a young man determining who he is and what he is here for Where does he fit in his family What is it he is meant to do Who will he share his life with In one sweet scene,They lingered awhile, however, listening to the soft, amiable bubbling of the spring a wise unobtrusive voice, murmuring night and day, continually telling the truth to people who could not understand it In this way, we come to know the people in this novel and discover that they their lives and sensibilities are not so much different than our own There is also a war emerging WWI, as it turns out There are many immigrants in the area who fled European homes to find a better life for themselves in a land with what appeared to be better opportunities.Yet, then as now, war changes everything When indiscreet or even overtly aggressive comments are made, neighbours sometimes turned on neighbours and brought charges against each other for speaking unpatriotic words DefendantI have nothing to say The charges are true I thought this was a country where a man could speak his mind JudgeYes, a man can speak his mind, but even here he must take the consequences Sit down, please For me, it is the blend of the inner and outer worlds of her characters that truly stands out in Willa Cather s writing Her clear sighted compassion, her love of nature and the many lessons it displays, the inner and outer conflicts that are sometimes soothed by the individual s environment and other times exacerbated by that same environment I loved reading this novel and for those who enjoy reading older prize winning novels, this is definitely a must read For those who love stories that flow with wisdom and beauty amidst our human travails, this novel will bring great satisfaction, too


  2. Duane Duane says:

    Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1923 Claude Wheeler is a young man with, seemingly, everything Well respected parents who own a good Nebraska farm that will someday belong to Claude, and he has a new wife But Claude has bigger dreams that can t be fulfilled in this setting His parent s are indifferent to his dreams, and his wife is only interested in her church and mission work Then World War I comes along, and Claude sees this as his opportunity to do something meaningful with Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1923 Claude Wheeler is a young man with, seemingly, everything Well respected parents who own a good Nebraska farm that will someday belong to Claude, and he has a new wife But Claude has bigger dreams that can t be fulfilled in this setting His parent s are indifferent to his dreams, and his wife is only interested in her church and mission work Then World War I comes along, and Claude sees this as his opportunity to do something meaningful with his life I won t say what happens, but Willa Cather is a master at bringing her characters to life, and giving the reader the essence of what it was like living on the Nebraska prairie in the early 20th century This was her home, and these were her people The character Claude was inspired by her cousin G.P Cather, who was born and raised on the farm next to Willas family Like Claude, G.P also served in WWI.Definitely one of Willa Cather s finest achievements Right up there with My ntonia and O Pioneers.Review revised on 9 2 15


  3. Cheryl Cheryl says:

    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 sawA mother s love for a distressed son A son s love for his emotionally abused and pious mother A young man pondering life and what it has to offer A war that has to be fought A protagonist who feels the pull of duty to a war that summons American lives If this is not a book about the inner turmoils of war and one s psychological baRuin 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 sawA mother s love for a distressed son A son s love for his emotionally abused and pious mother A young man pondering life and what it has to offer A war that has to be fought A protagonist who feels the pull of duty to a war that summons American lives If this is not a book about the inner turmoils of war and one s psychological battle with life, I don t know what is.The trembling image of beautiful ones on the horizon, this is what haunts Claude As usual, Cather gives us a portrait of American landscape and personality, with World War I as a complementary backdrop With male antipathy elucidated, this novel placed me within Claude s centermost thoughts, as he questioned what he deemed his lack of contribution to life, and his timidity as it related to his parentsHe sneered at himself for his lack of spirit If he had to do with strangers, he told himself, he could take up a case and fight for it He could not assert himself against his father or mother, but he could be bold enough with the rest of the world When we consider the brave men and women who go off to war, we consider the many factors that contribute to their decisions it takes determination, drive, and perhaps some psychological factor that sets these individuals apart from the rest of us this is what Cather seems to be exploring in this Pulitzer prize winning novelThe debris of human life wasworthless and ugly than the dead and decaying things in nature Rubbish, junkhis mind could not picture anything that so exposed and condemned all the dreary, weary, ever repeated actions by which life is continued from day to dayhe could not help thinking how much better it would be if people could go to sleep like the fields could be blanketed down under the snow, to wake with their hurts healed and their defeats forgotten This is a slow moving psychological journey I made with Claude from naive young farmer, to worldly soldier and man Although it takes some time to get going, the first half of the book is appealing, when the Nebraska landscape seems to move with Claude s inner thought Disillusioned, he wonders whether the farming life is the life for him, especially since he craves the intellectual lives of his friends, the ElrichesCould it really be he, who was airing his opinions in this indelicate manner He caught himself using words that had never crossed his lips before, that in his mind were associated only with the printed pageThe last part of the novel was a disconcerting and painful read, as death was encapsulated Although I wasn t always in concert with the war scenes and the subplots within the major war plot, I was always alongside Claude, so imagine my disappointment when he became the exemplification of disquietude It s not too often that a main character draws you close to him and then abandons you however, I rested assured that Claude found meaning in life Safety and security weren t his goals, instead, he wanted his life to be a contribution to some cause greater than himself and this it wasTo be assured, at his age, of three meals a day and plenty of sleep, was like being assured of a decent burial Safety, security if you followed that reasoning out, then the unborn, those who would never be born, were the safest of all nothing could happen to them


  4. Whitney Atkinson Whitney Atkinson says:

    I m crying as I write this review And it was a book for class This book is set during World War I, but the first half of this book talks about the main character s life at home and how he feels discontent with working on the farm and discontent with the marriage he fell into and discontent with living a life that was meaningless I thought his inner struggle was so compelling and even somewhat relatable, and I adored his personality as well.The latter half of this book is when he is deploy I m crying as I write this review And it was a book for class This book is set during World War I, but the first half of this book talks about the main character s life at home and how he feels discontent with working on the farm and discontent with the marriage he fell into and discontent with living a life that was meaningless I thought his inner struggle was so compelling and even somewhat relatable, and I adored his personality as well.The latter half of this book is when he is deployed to France, a section I felt was a bit dryer because the descriptions grew a lotgeographical and clinical descriptions of machinery and war and I wish it had stayed as character based By the end of the book, I couldn t remember which generals lieutenants colonels were who Nevertheless, there were some very powerful passages at the end that just tore me up, even though I don t entirely understand what exactly just happened Maybe after we discuss this in class tomorrow it ll be able to sit better with me, but I feel as if I m wanting a little bitRegardless, it s a gorgeously crafted story that goes beyond a war narrative to explain the troubles in his home life and his inner personal struggle, which I loved I totally get why it won the Pulitzer


  5. Meredith Holley Meredith Holley says:

    Leave it to Willa Cather to write the most peaceful book about war I have ever read One of Ours is not my favorite story about World War I or my favorite Cather, but it is truly beautiful Cather s description of the destruction caused by war and America s participation in global economy is fascinating, and I was surprised to find a perspective that I think of as common in post Vietnam writing in a book published before the Great Depression.One of the characteristics I love most about Cather as Leave it to Willa Cather to write the most peaceful book about war I have ever read One of Ours is not my favorite story about World War I or my favorite Cather, but it is truly beautiful Cather s description of the destruction caused by war and America s participation in global economy is fascinating, and I was surprised to find a perspective that I think of as common in post Vietnam writing in a book published before the Great Depression.One of the characteristics I love most about Cather as a writer is her ability to give her characters positions or traits that she obviously disagrees with, and still be compassionate towards them This story was no exception Although Claude, the hero of the novel, makes the wrong decision every time he comes to a crossroads, it does not make me or, I felt, Cather like him less, and I don t feel like she s beating me over the head with the fact that he s wrong It makes me so uncomfortable to read a story where the author is mean and petty to the characters That is not to say life is always a cheery place in Cather s books, but I never feel like she has a vendetta against people she includes in her story, or like she manipulates events to pull the rug out from under them Maybe because that is such a pet peeve of mine, I appreciate authors who seem unconditionally comfortable with their characters


  6. Chrissie Chrissie says:

    He is convinced that the people who might mean something to him will always misjudge him and pass him by He is not so much afraid of loneliness as he is of accepting cheap substitutes of making excuses to himself for a teacher who flatters him, of waking up some morning to find himself admiring a girl merely because she is accessible He has a dread of easy compromises, and he is terribly afraid of being fooled This is a quote taken from the story It describes the central protagonist Claude He is convinced that the people who might mean something to him will always misjudge him and pass him by He is not so much afraid of loneliness as he is of accepting cheap substitutes of making excuses to himself for a teacher who flatters him, of waking up some morning to find himself admiring a girl merely because she is accessible He has a dread of easy compromises, and he is terribly afraid of being fooled This is a quote taken from the story It describes the central protagonist Claude Wheeler He is an idealist without ideals He is perpetually dissatisfied with himself and ponders the futility of life.If you are looking for a happy story with a happy ending, this is not a story for you I find it sad that Claude only finds happiness in life through war Such a way of looking at life is disagreeable to me Yet still, I like this book a lot Why The ending is as it should be and the prose is beautiful Willa Cather has a remarkable talent for describing nature and places and people Faces, she draws them so you can see not just what is visible but also what lies underneath An individual s personality is shown in the jutting of a chin Heavy hooded eyes are not the same as eyes that twinkle with merriment, and they describe people with different temperaments Similarly, how a person holds their shoulders indicates the kind of person that person is Cather draws people so we know who they are underneath Landscapes and nature and places are drawn with a similar flair The atmosphere of a time and place is drawn, which isthan what is seen Cather has observed and gives back to us what she has seen so we too recall and appreciate past remembrances Not only the color of flowers but also how they move and bend in the wind or hold droplets of moisture are details captured in the prose Cather s descriptive prose is lovely The landscapes described are in Nebraska Then Claude goes off to war, and he is in France It is the First World War and war is not pretty, and Cather draws it as it is She does not draw a pretty story That isn t to say that the red and blue of poppies and cornflowers don t color the countryside The yellow sun shines in the dazzling blue sky The horror of what man does in war is there beside the beauty of nature that lies alongside The contrast becomesgripping because of the contrast itself The story is kept simple This too is as it should be.Kirsten Underwood narrates the audiobook She reads slowly and clearly I particularly appreciate the lengthy pauses that are inserted this allows the listener to appreciate the lyrical prose The American soldiers in France struggle with French words This makes Underwood s school French work just fine The narration performance I have given four stars My ntonia 5 starsOne of Ours 4 starsO Pioneers 3 starsSapphira and the Slave Girl 2 starsA Lost Lady 2 starsDeath Comes for the Archbishop TBR


  7. Daniel Chaikin Daniel Chaikin says:

    The 1923 Pulitzer doesn t exactly stand out from Cather s other works, but there are some things she doesintensely here than anywhere else She slows the story down, relyingon her storytelling mastery, and she brings in critical research and eye witness interviews This is a World War I book, and Cather is quoted as hating that classification But it s here she takes us to France, into the trenches and so on Inspired by a close neighbor who was a casualty of war, Cather, the one tim The 1923 Pulitzer doesn t exactly stand out from Cather s other works, but there are some things she doesintensely here than anywhere else She slows the story down, relyingon her storytelling mastery, and she brings in critical research and eye witness interviews This is a World War I book, and Cather is quoted as hating that classification But it s here she takes us to France, into the trenches and so on Inspired by a close neighbor who was a casualty of war, Cather, the one time news reporter, went to France and walked the battle fields, and interviewed numerous veterans And, of course, she partially grew up in Nebraska Claude Wheeler, her main character, is partially her neighbor, and, apparently, partially Cather herself.There is nothing about WWI in the opening, and no foreshadowing, no hint Cather is again writing about Nebraska and, again, from a different perspective Claude is the son of a prosperous farmer who has the money to send him away to school, in Lincoln Nebraska, but not the interest So Claude, who never seems to get anything right, suffers through a second rate religious school run by close minded ministers who he can see through, and then comes home and works the farm, with a few other characters, all wonderfully drawn Claude s dad is especially curious, outwardly kindly, inwardly sharp, calculating and all business Claude will see through some of this, but still get worked over by his father, then stumble into a marriage without the awareness of what he s doing, and then have to figure out what to do next Seems he never is able to see too far ahead, and neither are we.All this takes half the book Cather takes us through casually, and it s terrific Of course, this is a WWI book, and Claude will volunteer and leave little behind beyond a compromised mother who is happy to see him off another terrific and complicated character.I m going to leave this review off here because WWI has its own draw, and an effort at an accurate depiction will draw in whomever it does, and, as always, leave us readers wondering what is rosy and what is real I think it s safe to say Cather doesn t flinch from anything, but she is hopelessly in love with atmosphere and landscape and she couldn t possibly keep herself in those trenches without a walk around Also, her last page is worth the rest of book I can t keep myself from adding that Homer and Virgil seem to be in every book I read recently The simple tricks Homer uses in the Odyssey to keep the listener s attention as the story switches gears, toying with the underworld, arguably the central part of Virgil s Aeneid, and have their echo here too Travel in general and the underworld, specifically, with its mixed awful and cleansing properties, seem to be cornerstones in all literature.Cather so far comes recommended by me in all forms Here is another Terrific stuff 44 One of Ours by Willa Catherpublished 1922format Kindle book roughly 350 pages acquired Augustread Sep 2 21time reading 13 hr 52 min, 2.4 min pagerating 4


  8. Scott Axsom Scott Axsom says:

    One of Ours is another in a long line of beautiful works by Willa Cather, and the one she won a Pulitzer for If you re a Cather fan already, well, you re used to her stories generally going not much of any place in particular If you re new to her work, prepare for a languorous, yet profound, journey through the lives of remarkably ordinary people One of Ours hews to her style of magnificently in depth characterizations and elegiac descriptions of the early twentieth century American West.This One of Ours is another in a long line of beautiful works by Willa Cather, and the one she won a Pulitzer for If you re a Cather fan already, well, you re used to her stories generally going not much of any place in particular If you re new to her work, prepare for a languorous, yet profound, journey through the lives of remarkably ordinary people One of Ours hews to her style of magnificently in depth characterizations and elegiac descriptions of the early twentieth century American West.This book centers around a second generation Nebraska farmer who s just entering his twenties and discovering that the life his family, and convention, have mapped out for him doesn t hold the promise for learning and adventure that his own spirit seems to harbor He knows and loves a wonderful cast of characters in his hometown but he can t seem to shake the nagging feeling that there s , somewhere out there, waiting for him.To say that Willa Cather is a master of characterization seems to sell her short, somehow She has the ability to, time and again, shine a brilliant, honest light deep into the soul of just about every character she brings to life In describing a father contemplating what advice to impart upon a young man who s asked for his daughter s hand in marriage, she told it thusly What he wanted to do was hold up life as he had found it, like a picture to his young friend to warn him, without explanation, against certain heart breaking disappointments It could not be done, he saw The dead might as well try to speak to the living as the old to the young. Gradually, One of Ours brings World War I to the Nebraskan heartland and Cather tenderly takes the reader on a journey through the highs and lows felt by a young man who s already experiencing what are likely to be his life s greatest glories His realization of this stark fact is immensely powerful, and Cather portrays it with masterful grace and compassion One of Ours is not a war story, however Rather, it s simply another superb exploration of the most basic hopes and dreams and fears of our fellow travelers, delivered with typical virtuosity by Willa Cather And it s one that s well worthy of the prize it earned


  9. Sara Sara says:

    3.5 stars, rounded up.The first half of this novel is Willa Cather in her element She knows the plains and its people, and as long as Claude was on the farm and in his small town, I found each word true and compelling The second half of the novel, which takes place in France during WWI, does not ring as true and loses its grip on the characters somewhat The horrors of the trenches of WWI are well known and any idea that a man could feel happy to be there seems far fetched Happy to go, yes, h 3.5 stars, rounded up.The first half of this novel is Willa Cather in her element She knows the plains and its people, and as long as Claude was on the farm and in his small town, I found each word true and compelling The second half of the novel, which takes place in France during WWI, does not ring as true and loses its grip on the characters somewhat The horrors of the trenches of WWI are well known and any idea that a man could feel happy to be there seems far fetched Happy to go, yes, happy to stay, no With so much death and destruction around you, how could you not look back at your life and family with a bit of longing and nostalgia As a matter of fact, I should have thought that Claude would find a much deeper appreciation of his life in the States by being in France at this moment in time Cather won the Pulitzer for this novel, and I think it is one of those selections that must be put into the context of the time Having recently emerged from WWI, I think the world was anxious to look at the war as something worthwhile and the men who died there and those who came home in pieces as having been enhanced by the experience This novel might beof a case of how we want to see things than a case of how they actually were.I did enjoy this story, found it particularly appealing as a coming of age tale in the portions that take place before the war I would have liked a different ending or at least one that made a different statement But, this is Cather s tale, not mine When I had finished, I went and pulled a photograph of a WWI soldier that I happen to have in my possession I looked at his face and those of his simple, farming family He stands proudly in his uniform, and I tried to impose Claude s thoughts onto himit wouldn t work for me I think Hemingway got the war right I think Cather did not


  10. Jon Jon says:

    The story of Claude Wheeler, a college age farmer s son in Nebraska, just before and during World War I I try to put my finger on what is so appealing about Cather s prose, besides the sensitive and subtle presentation of her characters and her vivid descriptions of the physical world I guess it s her non judgmental choice of words she presents some pretty repellent characters, but she never describes them in a way to prejudice the reader she lets other characters be repelled by them What s The story of Claude Wheeler, a college age farmer s son in Nebraska, just before and during World War I I try to put my finger on what is so appealing about Cather s prose, besides the sensitive and subtle presentation of her characters and her vivid descriptions of the physical world I guess it s her non judgmental choice of words she presents some pretty repellent characters, but she never describes them in a way to prejudice the reader she lets other characters be repelled by them What she actually thinks can only be inferred from the twists and turns she places on the plot Most of this novel is about the dissatisfied meanderings of the main character, who thinks his life is useless and suspects distrusts almost everyone he meets, assuming that they are out to embarrass or get the better of him in some way He makes a disastrously heartbreaking marriage and seems destined to live out his life in irritation at his unlucky lack of prospects The war breaks out, he enlists, and the last third of the novel describes his adventures in France and in the trenches Cather apparently took some criticism for presenting the war in too positive a light but I can t imaginehorrifying details than she presents Far worse than anything shown in Saving Private Ryan, same place, different war She does, however, try to show that a heroic and selfless enterprise can have its positive effect on a man like Claude I was inspired to read this because of an epigraph in a Lawrence Block novel Even the wicked get worse than they deserve The quote comes from a scene on a troop ship en route to France, the soldiers stricken with influenza, dysentery, and God knows what The doctor, with insufficient supplies, some of which have been stolen for his own use by the chief steward, finds that the steward himself is stricken and will die painfully in a few days He remarks that in normal life he s a Presbyterian, and he ll probably be one again, but right now he feels not Calvinistic, but pitying, even of wicked men like the steward The troop ship is named The Anchises, a reference to Virgil s Aeneid, Cather s favorite poet and poem I have never read another author who so thoroughly gets the whole Virgilian sense of lacrimae rerum the tears of things