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ERIC Number: EJ1141469
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Jun
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0045-6713
"Better Times Are Coming Now": Wartime Dreams and Disenchantment in "Rufus M."
Mills, Claudia
Children's Literature in Education, v48 n2 p103-118 Jun 2017
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.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A