The American Frontier: 'The Son' by Philipp Meyer

Hosted by Oklahoma Humanities and Waurika Public Library
Philipp Meyer
Philipp Meyer (Diane Prokop)

Cultural, diplomatic, economic, military, political, and social factors, or a combination of these features, frequently drive history. Oklahoma Humanities Pulitzer Prize Centennial Series on The American Frontier reflects the influence of individuals on the historical process during the development of the American West.

On December 6, Rebecca Jacobs-Pollez, Ph.D. will present on The Son by Philipp Meyer.

The Texas frontier entwines with the saga of the McCullough family in  Meyer’s 2014 Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction. Eli, the family patriarch born in the newly formed Texas Republic, recounts at age 100 his life for a WPA recording. His frontier includes Comanches who hold him captive from the age of thirteen to sixteen. After readjusting to civilized society, Eli fights for the Confederacy, and helps tame southwest Texas, first as rancher and then oilman while defining his world by encounters with Mexicans and Tejanos. Son Peter’s diaries dating from 1915 to 1917 provide the second voice for the McCullough chronicles. He wants those around him to move toward a civilized society, accepting other cultures, and no longer a place where men live and die by the gun. Peter becomes the family outcast. Peter’s granddaughter, Jeanne, mentally recounts her life as she lies on the floor dying — but why? Her frontier is the man’s world, where she strives for and achieves recognition as an oil tycoon. The fourth voice, and last chapter, brings the saga full circle. Although each member of the McCullough family faces different frontiers and struggles, they serve as reminders of the challenges confronted by everyone in everyday life.

More in this series:

Sept. 6, 5:30 p.m.

Across the Wide Missouri by Bernard DeVoto

Presenter John Morris, Ph.D.

Sept. 15, 5:30 p.m.

The Middle Ground by Richard White

Presenter: David Fennema, Ph.D

Oct. 4, 5:30 p.m.

The Way West by A. B. Guthrie

Presenter: Bruce Treadaway

Nov. 1, 5:30 p.m.

Son of the Wilderness by Linnie Marsh Wolfe

Presenter: Margery Kingsley, Ph.D.

Dec. 6, 5:30 p.m.

The Son by Philipp Meyer

Presenter: Rebecca Jacobs-Pollez, Ph.D.