(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

How beautiful and peaceful the valley looks to Huw Morgan when he is ready to leave it. All the memories of a long lifetime come back to him. Huw’s earliest memories are of his father and brothers when they come home from the mines on Saturday night. There is trouble brewing at the mines. The men talk of unions and organizing, and the owners are angry.

Huw loves his family very much. When he learns that his brother Ivor is to marry, he is sorry to lose his brother. However, from the first moment Huw sees Ivor’s Bronwen, he loves her, and that love for his sister-in-law stays with him all of his life. Another brother, Ianto, marries soon afterward. His wife is a woman from the village, where Ianto goes to live.

Trouble comes at last to the mines. The men in the pits go on strike for twenty-two weeks, but the owners are the stronger because they are not watching their families starve. The men finally go back to work for less money than before. After the first strike, Huw’s father will never again join the men trying to form a union, for he cannot bring himself to lead men out of work. Davy and the other boys, however, are more bitter than ever. When their father orders his sons never to attend another meeting, Davy, Owen, and Gwilym leave home and take a room in a lodging house. Their mother cries all night, but their father will not change his mind. It is a miserable time for six-year-old Huw. When his sister, Angharad, finds that the three boys are living in filth, she goes to the rooming house to take care of them. Their father then relents and allows the boys to come home, but he says that they will be lodgers only, not sons.

After his father becomes superintendent at the mine, Huw hears some of the miners say that his father and Ivor, who agrees with him, might be beaten or even killed by some of the more violent miners. Frightened, he tells his mother what he has heard. One winter night, she and Huw go to the mountain where the miners are meeting, and she tells the men there that she will kill anyone who harms her husband. On the way home, his mother slips on the bank of a little river. Huw, standing in the icy water, supports his mother on the bank until help comes. After that, he remembers nothing until he awakens in his bed, and his father tells him that he saved his mother’s life and the life of his new baby sister. Huw has fever in his legs for almost five years and never leaves his bed during that time.

During his sickness, Bronwen nurses him, and his brothers read to him...

(The entire section is 1038 words.)