Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade October 2001

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"Caring" is one of the major themes in the two novels Plainsong and In Country. In the novel Plainsong there are many characters that take the responsibility to care for other people. In life those who care the most for another person are adults, this is relevant in this story. The biggest connection with caring is that of an adult for a child. Many characters in the novel Plainsong have that feeling. These characters are Tom Guthrie, Maggie Jones, and the McPheron brothers. In the novel In Country that feeling of caring is just the opposite. It is a young girl named Sam caring for her Uncle, Emmett who is an adult. This feeling of care, for a child to care for an adult, is usually found in a family relationship. Both these novels personify the theme of "caring" fairly well and many different forms of this emotion are expressed in both.

In the novel Plainsong the character Tom Guthrie cares for his two children Ike and Bobby. Tom raises his two sons pretty much by himself because their mother has all but abandoned the family. Every morning Tom makes breakfast for his sons and makes sure they get off to work delivering papers. A good example of Tom caring for his two sons is when one of his students, Russell Beckman an all-star athlete, who Tom failed in his American history course, takes his anger out on Tom's two sons. Russell takes Tom's two sons, in the middle of the night, a few miles out of town. He leaves them with out any clothing forcing them to walk home naked. When the Ike and Bobby finally tell Tom what happened to them Tom displays his care. He goes to Russell's home to discuss what happened with Russell and his parents. When he arrives at the Beckman residence Tom tries to tell Russell's father what happened. Russell's father doesn't believe a word that Tom says. This results in a fight that the police have to brake up. Tom cares for Ike and Bobby. He does not want anything to happen to them.

Maggie Jones another character from the novel, Plainsong, cares for young girl Victoria Roubideaux. Victoria gets kicked out of her home because her mother is convinced Victoria is pregnant. The only person Victoria believes she can turn to is her teacher Mrs. Jones. Mrs. Jones goes above and beyond the call of duty and takes care of Victoria the way Victoria's mother should have. Mrs. Jones takes Victoria into her home and supports Victoria with her pregnancy. Mrs. Jones helps Victoria get a pregnancy test and a doctor. Mrs. Jones lets Victoria stay with her for a few days then helps Victoria find another place to live. Mrs. Jones gives Victoria to the McPherons.

Harold and Raymond McPheron are two brothers who have managed to enter old age without a bride between them. Since their parents died when they were young, the men have been running the cattle farm. They live so far from town that their lives are devoted entirely to cows. This all changes when they open their hearts and their home to care for Victoria. Victoria, Harold, and Raymond's initial relationship is rocky at best. Once they get to know each other Harold and Raymond start to truly love and care for Victoria. They even build Victoria a crib for her baby she is pregnant with. But the true test comes when Victoria briefly runs away to Denver with her child's father. She soon realizes how much Harold and Raymond love and care for her. When she realizes this she returns right away. When she comes back she begs for the men to take her back into their home (of course they accept). The two men are almost to the point of tears when they see her back. They are so happy to see her back safe and healthy. After caring for Victoria the two men learn to love her and really become Victoria's family.

In the novel In Country, the theme of "caring" plays a major part in the story. But in this story the traditional role of the adult caring for the child is switched. In this novel Sam, an eighteen year old teenager who just graduated high school, cares for her Uncle Emmett, a Vietnam veteran who has trouble, ever since Vietnam, moving on with his life.

Sam cares for Emmett by helping him move on with his life. She tries to get Emmett a job but he does not want to work. Sam tries to get Emmett to go out with one of the lady nurses in town, but Emmett does not want to go out on any dates. All Emmett wants to do is lay around the house all day thinking of Vietnam and all of the terrible things he saw there. He can not stop thinking about all of his friends and family who died in the war. Sam can not stand seeing Emmett like this. She convinces Emmett to go with her and her grandmother to drive to Washington D.C. to visit the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. After Emmett visits "The Wall" it seems he is ready to move on with his life. After seeing his friends and on the wall it makes him realize the war is over and life goes on. Sam shows cares for Emmett by helping him put his life back together.

In the two novels, Plainsong and In Country, the theme of "caring" is shown through many of the characters. The novel Plainsong portrays the theme of caring in a more traditional way, the adult cares for the child. This is shown when Tom cares for Ike and Bobby, his two sons. When Maggie Jones cares for her high school student, Victoria. And when The McPherons also care for Victoria. The novel In Country portrays the theme of "caring" in just the opposite way, the child cares for the adult. This is shown when Sam cares for her Uncle Emmett. Both these novels illustrate the theme of "caring" fairly well and many different forms of this emotion are expressed in both.

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