The title is not that important to the novel, but it does aid in understanding one of the book's main themes, that the quality of life is very important.
Main Characters Homer Macauley: This responsible young man has become the man of the house by supporting his family with an after school job. But with this job comes responsibility and the hardships of growing up. Homer learns to deal with the problems of the world and with the acceptance of death.
Mrs. Macauley. She is the all-knowing loving mother, She understands her children and the problems they are going through, but she lets them deal with their own problems themselves. She has the experience and wisdom to guide her children.
Ulysses Macauley: This little boy is everyone's friend He is content with simply watching the world around him. Ulysses adds humor to the novel and gives the novel a sense of calmness.
Marcus Macauley. He is the oldest Macauley child who is fighting overseas in the army. The development in the novel relates to Marcus. The novel ends with his death.
Mary and Bess: These two radiant girls symbolize hope. Throughout the entire novel they are waiting for Marcus to return.
Major Conflict: The major conflict is with Homer learning to deal with his problems and to gain a new understanding about life.
Setting: The setting is in Ithaca, California, during World War II.
Point of View: The point of view is third person omniscient.
Themes: The quality of life is very important.
The effects of death can be good and bad.
Hard work is good for the soul.
Understanding and maturity come with experience.
Quotes 1. "The cow, however, turned and looked at Ulysses. Ulysses looked back at the cow. ...The cow, in turn, watched Ulysses, so that the small boy believed they might become friends" p. 11 5 I chose this quote because it adds humor and wonder to the story by using an experience with the delightful Ulysses. This simple boy wants to befriend a cow. This shows the simple characteristics of Ulysses.
2. "Not clowning, without any premeditation, swiftly and easily, he reached the girl, paused a moment and kissed her on the check. Before he moved on, he told her the only thing it was possible to say: 'You are the loveliest woman in the world! ... p. 78.
In this quote Spangler is running down the street, in a hurry to deliver a telegram. I chose this quote because it sheds light on Mr. Spangler's character and it adds a spirit of lightheartedness to the novel. It is a break in the story involving an unimportant event, yet it fits smoothly into the action and it becomes a necessary part of the novel.
3. "Lionel pointed out more books to Ulysses. 'These,' he said. 'And those over there. And these. Are books, Ulysses.' He stopped a moment to think. 'I wonder what they say in all these books.' He pointed out a whole vast area of them, five shelves full of them. 'All these,' he said - 'I wonder what they say. "' p. 1-19- I chose this quote because it shows the beauty of Saroyan's writing. In this quote, Lionel, the town simpleton, visits the public library, and is amazed by just the sight of so many books. Saroyan uses dialect, repetition and description to make Lionel come alive. The reader can believe he is a person and that this event has legitimately happened.
Other Mood: Saroyan effectively manipulated the mood at the ends of some of the chapters when Homer sang a church hymn. This calmed down the action and it gave a certain sense of solemnity and closure to the chapters.
Imagery: Saroyan used imagery often to describe his characters. He was very descriptive and made sure to be distinct when he created his characters.