Facing America’s Failed Dream in Willa Cather’s One of Ours
Willa Cather is one of the prominent Western woman writers. She was born on December 7th 1873 in Winchester, Virginia where her family had farmed the land for generations. Cather's fifth novel, One of Ours (1922) was written during World War I and was inspired by the death of Cather's cousin on the Western Front in France. Claude Wheeler in the novel is an idealistic Nebraska farm boy who enlists in the army after an unhappy life on the farm and a failed marriage. He dies thinking; he is helping to save the world for democracy. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in `1922 for her novel One of Ours, and itis a courageous novel because it pursued its hero's quest for family happiness. It reached a crisis when it showed the happiness fulfilled by life and death in the army. Cather made a technical decision that put a weak character at the centre of her novel, thus precluding a strong affirmation of values in her usual mode. This seemed to force her into a rather desperate assertion that any values even a false one is better than no value at all. The two components are the clear statement of values usually in the form of an ideal which was pursued and affirmed with vigour and a strong character who was the human embodiment of that ideal.Cather created a false centre of value in the war experience of Claude. By making Claude believe in war she divides herself and compromises her own moral position. Creating war as a saving ideal for Claude was a neat device, for, it provided both the illusion of fulfilment and the death which spared the young idealist from ultimate disillusionment. Many young men who joined the armed forces tended to idealize their prospective roles in World War I but Claude did not stop there. He saw the war as a chance to start his life whichhe thought was over. He believed that he had at last found his route to the ideal.
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