Willa Cather’s novel One of Ours is a complex, slow-moving, but beautiful character study set before and during World War I. It follows Claude Wheeler as he passes from youth to manhood and from naïveté to knowledge. Although Cather follows other characters for brief times, she does so primarily to round out her portrait of Claude’s world. At each stage of his quest for selfhood, Cather shows the context of Claude’s life in intricate detail. His family and the surrounding Nebraska farmland shape him in the novel’s first half; the surrounding troops and the ship carrying them to war form him in the last half. The patriotism of Claude and his fellow soldiers, as well as their innocent (and at times ignorant) desire to do good deeds, makes the war effort seem like a noble cause. However, it ends—as real war always does—with death, leaving Claude Wheeler and the novel as a whole suspended in a state of emotional incompleteness and pain.