There are several important settings in One of Ours. The first is the Wheeler farm on Lovely Creek. Although Claude yearns to visit other places, he is formed by the farm and by the people and animals on it. He knows it so well that he can name the individual injuries of the horses. Once Claude is in charge, the farm becomes his identity, almost his heart; he is aware of every change on it, even if others are not. Cather’s portraits of the farm community are thus lovingly detailed.
Most of the lesser settings work simply to alienate Claude. When Claude goes to Frankfort, even though it is nearby, he feels out of place. He is also out of place in Lincoln, and even more so when he visits Colorado.
The next major, and heartbreaking, setting is the house Claude builds for his new life with Enid. He lavishes energy on it, trying to make the design and the garden perfect. The reality is that it ends up hollow, and he abandons it without looking back once Enid leaves.
Two further complex settings define the novel and Claude. The first is the Anchises, the ship that takes Claude to France. It is not described with either the focus or the detail that the farm is, but two elements come through with amazing intensity: the sense of the sea as an alien environment, and the community of soldiers aboard the ship.
The other setting, which is both glorious and hideous, is the war itself. There are moments of near paradise, like the week in Beaufort, that are described in a series of lovely verbal snapshots; these are the moments of heightened intensity the men carry to sustain themselves. Then there are the moments of almost unmatched horror and degradation. The best example of this is the Boar’s Head. The soil shifts because it is full of bodies that are decaying, and a swollen dead hand sticks out of a wall. The earth that was so loving back in Nebraska is now acting like a horror-movie monster, pulling the men to their deaths.