“Better Times Are Coming Now”: Wartime Dreams and Disenchantment in Rufus M. View Full Text


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Article Info

DATE

2017-06

AUTHORS

Claudia Mills

ABSTRACT

Written and published during World War II, Eleanor Estes’s Rufus M. (1943) is set during the time of American involvement in World War I, the war of the author’s own childhood. Despite the fact that the book was named a Newbery Honor title, many critics have found it unsatisfyingly unstructured and episodic. I argue, however, that the book is far more unified in its construction than these critics recognize and deserves study as a revelatory title about how the First World War was presented to young readers during the Second World War. In his dauntless determination to support the war effort, young Rufus shows himself to be an iconic home-front hero of precisely the sort encouraged by the United States propaganda machine. But read carefully, the book has such an air of pervasive melancholy and contains so many scenes of disappointed hopes and disillusioned dreams that it can be read as encoding doubts about the first war’s legacy. Despite Estes’s clearly intended attempt to provide hope for young readers, the reality of World War I’s ultimate failure haunts Rufus M. as a sort of pentimento, a darker set of images revealed beneath the text’s surface optimism. More... »

PAGES

103-118

References to SciGraph publications

  • 2015. Sugary Celebrations and Culinary Activism: Sugar, Cooking, and Entertaining during World War I in HUMOR, ENTERTAINMENT, AND POPULAR CULTURE DURING WORLD WAR I
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    http://scigraph.springernature.com/pub.10.1007/s10583-016-9288-0

    DOI

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10583-016-9288-0

    DIMENSIONS

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