Type: Literary Analysis
Pages: 2 | Words: 587
Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Kent Haruf’s earlier two novels did not make good sale but massive success of Plainsong (1999) became bestseller and Kent was nominated for the National Book Award among other authors.

Plainsong is basically portrayed of the entire community in Colorado. Every chapter in Plainsong is written from a different character’s point of view and reader can fully understand all the characters.

Plainsong informs us about the community of Holt, where Victoria, two farmers named McPheron and Raymond and two lonely school teachers are the main characters. Tom Guthrie with his two young sons is also introduced by Kent Haruf. Tom struggles hard to bear the hardships as he is abandoned with children by his wife. Tom in the small town of Holt fights to grow his two children and keeps his own life together when his wife moves to her sister’s home.

In Plainsong the main character Tom Guthrie faces troubles and crisis at home as well as in school. He is at trouble with disaffected and bullying students. Tom tries his best to maintain the connection with natural world as he asks his old friends to involve his two young sons in work. Two friends care his children and children also feel better bonds than their father with the friends. Tom has been always emotional throughout this novel. As Kent depicts less about the scenes of his wife, but Tom tell her sons about their mother’s illness with them emotionally. We have seen Tom’s character with less control at his home and in his classroom. He shows less control and domination and reacts with poor judgment as he experiences through out the novel Plainsong. Personal situation of Tom improves by the end of novel but Kent does not show him as a nurturing father and his intimacy with his sons through course of this novel.

It is usual women who nurture their children but in Plainsong Guthrie and McPheron brothers give shelter and calm. In this respect men differ from the women and offer many kinds of facilities to growing children and Vitoria. Kent Haruf has depicted the day to day struggles to meddle in other’s affairs in this novel Plainsong. Maggie Jones is another school teacher who brings the people together. She is Maggie who knows the sufferings of the others and asks the two farmers to allow the Vitoria to live with them. Maggie also knows the needs of the Tom Guthrie and gives him useful suggestions to encourage him in his life. We have seen the fear in Ike and Bobbie’s eyes, aloneness in the heart of Vitoria but hope in Tom Guthrie.

I am really impressed by the Tom’s character who gives distinct voice in the novel but always Maggie a colleague teacher provides him the solution of many dilemmas. Tom is terse moral center of the Plainsong novel by Kent Haruf where he is seen faultless and his dignity of daily acts is reverberated in Haruf’s sentences.

Guthrie brought two thick crockery plates of steaming eggs and buttered toast to the table and set them down and the boys spread jelly on the toast and began to eat at once. (Kent Haruf 1999).


We have seen in this paper that Tom’s sons are living like Vitoria who is also alone without affection of her mother. We have seen almost all main characters in Plainsong. We have focused mainly Tom Guthrie in this paper. Kent Haruf is convinced that courtesy is its reward with sophisticated techniques and optimism that allows him to see its characters and respects their privacy.

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