Remembering Summary
by Wendell Berry

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(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Andy Catlett’s life centers on Port William, Kentucky, where he has farmed most of his life. His sense of integrity and of himself as a whole man is bound up in his closeness to the land he farms. Farming gives him a feeling of harmony; it has become the rhythm of his life.

In a harrowing, perfectly realized scene, Catlett loses his hand in a corn picker. While the machine was still running, he put his hand in it to clear a jam-up, and the machine mangled and crushed it. No longer able to do his chores except in the clumsiest fashion, Catlett is a trial to his wife and feels he is a burden to his fellow farmers, who come to help him out.

Only when Catlett is away from the farm, in San Francisco, does he have the time to brood by himself, to think over his life, and eventually to realize that at least half the pleasure he has gotten from farming has been in his thinking about it and in the human fellowship that goes into it.

REMEMBERING, as the title suggests, is about the value inherent in recollection. Just as Berry is able to put his character’s experience in such moving words, so his character is able to realize that it has been in the remembering and not just in the doing that his life has had a satisfying meaning.