Angle of Repose - Summary

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Jordan Pye
8-12-11
Angle of Repose

Written by Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972. Based on the letters written by Mary Hallcock Foote, the inspiration to Stengner’s character, Susan Ward, Stegner writes about a man, Lyman Ward, who has developed a bone crippling disease and has become dependent on others to assist him on his mission to discover his grandmother’s journey to Grass Valley. To accomplish this, Lyman went through a vast amount of letters and placed them in order of occurrence. His grandmother, Susan Burling Ward, had embarked on a journey of a lifetime with, her husband, Oliver Ward; on which they encountered many new hardships as they pioneered the West. Like many great quests, it leads him unfathomably into the murky shadows of his own life. Although people are not perfect and may face difficult circumstances in life, the noble character traits of Oliver and Susan enabled them to overcome their adversities. Born and raised in New York, Susan was well educated, a fine writer, and a good painter. On the other hand, Oliver was stalwart, gifted, stoic, but most importantly, was worthy as a husband and provider. Leaving New York to pioneer the New Frontier, Susan was hoping that they would someday return as successes to reunite with her old friends. Beginning their journey in New Almaden, Oliver successfully acquired a job as a mine engineer. Also, Susan was getting a chance to be a writer for Scribner’s magazine. Lyman tells it was a time of true happiness. When an incident occurred between a fellow employee, Tregoning, and their boss, Mr. Kendall, Oliver was asked to perform a job that went against his principles and thus quit. Although he quit, Susan was delighted that he left his job than to keep it and do something immoral. While Oliver was out of work, Susan offered to use her freelance earnings to support them while he searched for a job. Refusing, he sent her to stay with friends in Santa Cruz...
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