Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe is a long, sprawling, semi-autobiographical novel that portrays the daily life, thoughts, and character formation of its protagonist, Eugene Gant.
The novel begins with the story of his father William Oliver Gant, an energetic man filled with wanderlust and thwarted ambition whose frustration with how his life has turned out leads him to drinking sprees. His wife Eliza leaves him temporarily for St. Louis but eventually returns only to leave again and run a boarding house.
Eugene, unlike his siblings, is a sensitive child in love with art and literature. Of his siblings, only his favorite brother Ben really cares for him and stands up for him. In school, though, his literary and academic talents begin to blossom, especially at the Leonards’ private school. Precociously intelligent, despite being tall and socially awkward for his age, Eugene attends a local university at the age of 15, initially having some difficulty fitting in and making friends, but eventually carving out a place for himself. His brother Ben becomes ill and dies, and only at Ben's death is he fully appreciated by other members of the family.
Eugene's father develops prostate cancer and dies, and the family is consumed with bitter hatred for each other. Eugene is admitted to Harvard as a transfer student and leaves his family permanently.
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