One of Ours by Willa Cather

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Margaret Elliot is “beautiful, talented, critical, unsatisfied, tired of the world at twenty-four” (Great Short Works, 8). Engaged to a man she has no feelings for, life feels bleak and without purpose. She feels true love once with Eric, but just for a moment. For her whole life, Margaret “had searched the faces of men for the look that lay in his eyes. She knew that look had never shone before, would never shine for her on earth again, that such love comes to one only in dreams or in impossible places like this, unattainable always. This was Love’s self, and in a moment it would die” (Great Short Works, 29). For Willa Cather this is how love exists. Happy relationships are plentiful, but the enchanted, all encapsulating love of dreams only exists in glances. For Eric this glance is enough. He does not regret his decision or the damnation he is sure it will cause. For him “a day shall be as a thousand years, and a thousand years as a day” as his love lives on.
In most cases, however love is not enough. Both Margaret and Claude, the protagonist of Cather’s novel One of Ours feel this shimmer of love, but in the end must search for meaning elsewhere. Set in a small Nebraska farm town, One of Ours opens several years before the start of the First World War. Claude is unsatisfied with his simple life in the fields, and possesses an idealistic, romantic outlook that propels him to search for meaning on a much different field in Europe. For Claude, who wants nothing more than
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