"Plainsong" by Haruf compared to "In Country" by Bobbie Ann Mason

Essay by ateyfourCollege, UndergraduateA+, April 2003

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Most people have experienced some type of caring, whether it be from family, friends, or even random acts of kindness from strangers. Caring was a universal theme found throughout In Country, by Bobbie Ann Mason, and also Plainsong, by Kent Haruf. Sam Hughes is the main character in In Country, and was the most caring person in the novel. In Plainsong, the McPheron brothers were the biggest models for caring in the novel. This theme was a very important aspect in both of these novels, and reveal a lot about the characters, as well as the authors.

Sam Hughes was born into a strange situation. She had a father and mother, but before her birth, her father died while he was in Vietnam. She grew up with her mother, and her uncle. Her mother eventually remarried, and Sam decided to stay with Uncle Emmett, a Vietnam veteran, instead of moving.

Ironically, Sam played almost a mother figure for Emmett, and took care of him. She was always worried about small things, and was genuinely concerned about Emmett's well being. There was a strange rash on Emmett's neck, and he had pimples on his face. "You've got Agent Orange. Those pimples are exactly how they described them on the news."(31, I.C.) Agent Orange was a chemical used in Vietnam to kill the plants, and while tested in the lab proved to be harmless, but in the wilderness, soldiers that were exposed to the defoliant had health problems. Sam believed that Emmett was exposed, and continues to ask him to get it checked out often. The role of the adult in their situation was flipped. Emmett should have been looking after Sam, where it was Sam that was looking after Emmett.

Emmett used to date a nurse back before...