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The soliloquy of Clara Barnes as she traces her upbringing behind the iron bars of righteousness carries her from her early childhood to the death of her mother and the collapse of the world she had inherited and won. For Jessie had fled to the tail end of nowhere with Eldon to prevent him from ""gallivanting"" but windy, bare and empty Kansas gave him a chance for gambling, drinking -- and womanizing, even with Jessie's sister when she came to help with the birth of their third child. Paralysis and death for Eldon left Jessie to din into Minnie and Clara that men existed only on woman's strength; Minnie tried marriage but vanished to a doubtful life in California; Clara tied schoolteaching but section foreman, Charles Davis, tempted her and she proved female wiles worked when she caught him in marriage. The death of their baby almost tore it but a move to another town, Clara's finding herself over the line with the respectable women, Charles' turning from socialism to up and coming young railroad man and a new baby were bulwarks to turn to when Jessie died and Clara found her own reasoning and judgment were to help her in the future. A lyric quality and a sensitive understanding add to the picture of a rowdy, raw and robust midwest and make for a living period portrait.

Pub Date: Aug. 27th, 1954
Publisher: Random House