Posts Tagged ‘His Family’

The 15-Minute Pulitzers

I am thankful to Ryan Adams for supplying the lyric that has become the title of this post.  I chose it because it sort of randomly popped into my head, true, but also because I find it rather appropriate for the purpose of informing a conversation about Ernest Poole’s Pulitzer-winning novel, His Family.  (The tension apparent in that last sentence between impulse and reason also leads me to feel this is the right time to explain the meaning of the exclamation, ”Hwah!”  I feel the definition of this utterance, this yawp, if you will, that escaped me at the end of my last attempt at blogging, enables me to encapsulate the potential spirit of this blog.  Thus, without further ado, hm-mm, ”Hwah: a cry utilized to express enthusiasm despite a lack of comprehension.”)

Moving on.

His Family concerns an aging widower, Roger Gale, who owns a home in an area of New York where individual houses are rapidly becoming obsolete.  Apartment buildings are crowding his property, towering over his home in a  concrete image of the changing times, the growing population in the city, etc.  The story opens in the few years before WWI.

An even more personal concern for Roger is the changing face of his family.  When we first meet Roger, his wife has been gone for several years, but we get the feeling that it is only now that Roger is beginning to wake up from his grief and to see the state his family is in.  They are not in some vast trouble, no, but his three daughters have grown up in his absence of mind and have begun to make their own very different choices for the way in which they will assemble their own families.  In some ways Roger has woken up too late.  His family has changed, New York has changed, his business that he built has changed, and he has changed.  He is old.  What powers are left to him to affect the world surrounding him?  And though there are many themes throughout this novel, this becomes a central theme.  In what way will Roger create a legacy?  Will he give up?  Will he find contentment, meaning, initiative?  Or will he be swept along until death obliterates him?  Ultimately, the question becomes one of whether or not, with the objects of his affection so altered, he will he be able to again find love in his heart.  Will he ever be able to say with any significant amount of sincerity, “I still love you, New York?”


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