Friday, September 17, 2010
"When marrying, ask yourself...if...you would be able to converse...with this person...in old age?"
The time of this Pulitzer Prize winning story is toward the conclusion of the Civil War. Families are receiving notifications about the death, capture or injury of their loved ones.
Wully McLaughlin returns to his parents' home after escaping from the Confederates where he had been taken prisoner. Some of Wully's war recollections reminded me of "The Red Badge of Courage."
While Wully is home, he visits the farm of Christie McNair. There is a small population in this part of Iowa and Christie is lonely. He and Christie form a relationship that makes Wully believe that after the war there would be a marriage.
Wully spends a brief time home and returned to his regiment. When the war ends, he returns for good and immediately goes to Christie's home. Christie is distant and won't look at Wully in the face. She doesn't want to see him and her coldness shocks him.
Not giving up, and feeling that Christie is the only one for him, he goes to her home again but secretly, only to find her crying on her front porch.
Unable to figure things out, on the road back to his family's farm he meets a cousin, Peter Keith. Wully asks Peter if he knows what is causing Christie such pain. Peter gets excited and tells Wully that he asked her to marry him when Wully was away. Wully finally gets that Peter had taken advantage of Christie and they have a disagreement which ends with Peter leaving the area in fear of Wully's reprisal.
The author describes what happens next when Wully returns again to Christie's home and how he tries to convince her that he'll take care of her and everything will turn out right. We also learn what steps he and his patents take so that the community won't scorn Christie for her pregnancy.
The novel offers a good description of the hardship of frontier life and what many settlers faced. There is a particularly well told portion of the story describing the difficult winter witnessed by an emigrant who went to her new husband's home and found that she was living on little better than a sty.
I enjoyed the story and the manner in which the author told the reader about live in the wintry Iowa area and what families went through. I did feel that the story meandered a bit and was overly long. Overall I recommend it.
Please check out the amazon review of this work and if you agree, please indicate that the review was helpful.