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.


(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Bloom, Edward A., and Lillian D. Bloom. Willa Cather’s Gift of Sympathy. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1962. Considered a classic on criticism of Cather’s works. The Blooms look at this author’s gift of sympathy and skillfully relate it to her thematic interests and technical proficiency. Deals with not only Cather’s fiction but also her poetry and essays, which in themselves form an important commentary on her ideas.

Bloom, Harold, ed. Modern Critical Views: Willa Cather. New York: Chelsea House, 1985. Bloom says of this volume that it gathers “the best literary criticism on Cather over the last half-century.” The criticism selected emphasizes Cather’s novels Sapphira and the Slave Girl, My Ántonia, Death Comes for the Archbishop, and A Lost Lady. The volume concludes with a study by Marilyn Arnold on what are considered Cather’s two finest short stories, “A Wagner Matinee” and “Paul’s Case.” Contains a chronology and a bibliography. A must for serious Cather scholars.

Fryer, Judith. Felicitous Space: The Imaginative Structures of Edith Wharton and Willa Cather. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1986. Although there are many full-length studies on Cather’s writing, this volume is particularly noteworthy for its examination of Cather using current feminist...

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Briggs, Cynthia K. 1990. “Insulated Isolation: Willa Cather’s Room With a View.” Cather Studies, 1(1): 159. Briggs analyzes the relationship between Cather’s characters and their surrounding landscape.

Dyck, Reginald. 1993. “The Feminist Critique of Cather’s Fiction: A Review Essay.” Women’s Studies, 22(3): 263. The author reviews how feminist critics have viewed Cather and her work.

Footman, Robert H. 1938. “The Genius of Willa Cather.” American Literature, 10(2): 123. This article provides a comprehensive discussion of Cather’s literary approach and quality.

Garvelink, Lisa Bouma. 2004. “Willa Cather’s Voyage Perilous: A Case for One of Ours.” Women’s Studies, 33(7): 907-931. Garvelink analyzes the novel in relation to larger historical and intellectual movements.

Griffiths, Frederick T. 1984. “The Woman Warrior: Willa Cather and One of Ours.” Women’s Studies, 11(3): 261. Griffiths reviews debates over Cather’s treatment of war before providing a frame for understanding it.

Hamilton, Erica. 2007. “Advertising Cather During the Transition Years (1914-1922).” Cather Studies, 7(1): 13-26. Hamilton studies how Cather was advertised and how she responded to her marketing.

McFarland, Dorothy Tuck. 1978. Willa Cather. New York: Frederick Unger Publishing Co. This book length study provides a solid introduction to Cather’s career.

Robison, Mark A. 2006. “Recreation in World War I and the Practice of Play in One of Ours.” Cather Studies, 6(1): 160-183. This critical article analyzes Cather’s use of recreation (play, hobbies, sports) and its role in the novel.

Trout, Steven, Robert Thacker, and Michael A. Peterman. 1999. “Willa Cather’s One of Ours and the Iconography of Remembrance.” Cather Studies, 4(1): 187-204. The authors discuss how Cather’s treatment of World War I in One of Ours was received in the period.

Yenor, Scott. 2007. “Willa Cather’s Turns.” Perspectives on Political Science, 36(1), 29-38. In this critical article, Yenor argues that Cather’s career falls into distinct phases.