In support of this, the author gives his plot a rural setting, and makes its main characters speak as little as possible. Also, Plainsong is democratic in that it has several protagonists, and it is moralistic in that it condemns its antagonists to the roles of minor characters, in line, perhaps, with how mean-spirited they are. The earlier chapters of Plainsong show the problems of its main characters, and its later chapters show how these problems play out.
Tom Guthrie is a high school teacher whose wife can't--or won't--get out of bed; the McPherons are two bachelor brothers who know little about the world beyond their farm gate; Victoria Roubideaux is a pregnant year-old with no place to turn.
Their lives parallel each other in much the same way any small-town lives would--until Maggie Jones, another teacher, makes them intersect. Even as she tries to draw Guthrie out of his black cloud, she sends Victoria to live with the two elderly McPheron brothers, who know far more about cattle than about teenage girls.
Trying to console her when she think she's hurt her baby, the best lie they can come up with is this: In a way, that's true of the book, too. There's not a lot of suspense here, plotwise; you can see each narrative twist and turn coming several miles down the pike.
What Plainsong has instead is note-perfect dialogue, surrounded by prose that's straightforward yet rich in particulars: Even the novel's larger questions are sized to a domestic scale. Will Guthrie find love?
Will Victoria run away with the father of her baby? Will the McPherons learn to hold a conversation? But in this case, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and Plainsong manages to capture nothing less than an entire world--fencing pliers, calf-pullers, and all.
Kent Haruf has a gorgeous ear, and a knack for rendering the simple complex. He has written a compelling and compassionate novel.
In the small town of Holt, Colorado, a high school teacher is confronted with raising his two boys alone after their mother retreats first to the bedroom, then altogether. A teenage girl - her father long since disappeared, her mother unwilling to have her in the house - is pregnant with nowhere to go.
And out in the country, two brothers, elderly bachelors, work the family homestead, the only world they've ever known. From these unsettled lives emerges a vision of life, and of the town and landscape that bind them together - their fates somehow overcoming the powerful circumstances of place and station, their confusion, curiosity, dignity and humor intact and resonant.
Utterly true to the rhythms and patterns of life, Plainsong is a story to care about, believe in and learn from. Haruf follows the lives of several characters in rural Holt, Colorado - Guthrie, an honest school teacher whose wife has suffered a nervous breakdown; his two sons, Ike and Bobby, who find themselves facing death, independence, and growing up; Victoria Roubideaux, a pregnant teenager thrown out of her mother's house; the McPherons, Harold and Raymond, bachelor brothers who know more about cattle prices and corn cribs than they do about people; and Maggie Jones, the woman who connects them.
I did not fall in love with this novel until the hundredth page or so, and then I could not put it down.
The narrative flows like a meandering river - steadily but without visible ripples on the surface - and so it takes time to become fully invested in Haruf's characters. Fortunately, the characterizations, fictional details and the quality of the prose are strong enough from the start to keep one reading.
The rhythms of life in Holt and the honest, almost innocent, way its citizens face their trials give this novel a graceful elegiac quality.In Kent Haruf's Plainsong, Ike and Bobby are important characters through the story.
They are first introduced as being neglected and abandoned by their mother. You soon see how independent they are, as they have a job, and go to school and basically live life without parental help. Kent Haruf, author of Plainsong, one of the most beloved novels in recent years, has wisely continued the franchise in Eventide, another foray into the prairie town of Holt, Colorado.
We meet some of the same people--the McPheron brothers, Tom Guthrie and Maggie Jones, Victoria and her daughter Katie, and are introduced to new ones/5(58). Ike, 10, and Bobby, nine, are polite, sensitive boys who mature as they observe the puzzling behavior of adults they love.
At school, Guthrie must deal with a vicious student bully whose violent behavior eventually menaces Ike and Bobby, in a scene that will leave readers with palpitating hearts. Like Kent Haruf's previous books, Plainsong looks unflinchingly at the cruelty of "plain" human beings, and counterbalances all that's ugly with a remarkable "song" of human kindness and care.
Also, Plainsong is democratic in that it has several protagonists, and it is moralistic in that it condemns its antagonists to the roles of minor characters, in line, perhaps, with how mean-spirited they are. Plainsong is a bestselling novel by Kent Haruf.
Set in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado, it tells the interlocking stories of some of the inhabitants. The title comes from a type of unadorned music sung in Christian churches, and is a reference to both the Great Plains setting and the simple style of the writing.