One of Ours (Paperback)
One of Ours is a novel by Willa Cather which won the 1923 Pulitzer Prize. It tells the story of the life of Claude Wheeler, a native of Nebraska around the turn of the 20th century. The son of a successful mid-western farmer and an intensely pious mother, thus guaranteed a comfortable livelihood, Claude Wheeler nonetheless views himself as a victim of his father's success and his own inexplicable malaise.
One of Ours is a portrait of a peculiarly American personality: it is the story of a young man born after the American frontier has vanished, yet whose quintessentially American restlessness seeks redemption on a frontier far bloodier and more distant than that which his forefathers had already tamed.
Claude Wheeler opened his eyes before the sun was up and vigorously shook his younger brother, who lay in the other half of the same bed.
"Ralph, Ralph, get awake Come down and help me wash the car."
"Why, aren't we going to the circus today?"
"Car's all right. Let me alone." The boy turned over and pulled the sheet up to his face, to shut out the light which was beginning to come through the curtainless windows.
Claude rose and dressed, --a simple operation which took very little time. He crept down two flights of stairs, feeling his way in the dusk, his red hair standing up in peaks, like a cock's comb. He went through the kitchen into the adjoining washroom, which held two porcelain stands with running water. Everybody had washed before going to bed, apparently, and the bowls were ringed with a dark sediment which the hard, alkaline water had not dissolved. Shutting the door on this disorder, he turned back to the kitchen, took Mahailey's tin basin, doused his face and head in cold water, and began to plaster down his wet hair.
Old Mahailey herself came in from the yard, with her apron full of corn-cobs to start a fire in the kitchen stove. She smiled at him in the foolish fond way she often had with him when they were alone.