61 pages 2 hours read

Thomas Wolfe

Look Homeward, Angel

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1929

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Part 1, Chapter 1Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 1, Chapter 1 Summary

Look Homeward, Angel begins with a contemplation on the universality of human life. Wolfe reflects on the connections between human lives separated by distance and time when he states, “every moment is a window on all time” (5). Wolfe begins his tale of the Gant family’s arrival in America with the simple line, “This is a moment” (5).

The Gant family’s American roots took hold after the 1837 immigration of Englishman Gilbert Gaunt, who changed the family surname to the more phonetically American “Gant.” On his new American adventures, Gilbert made an unsuccessful living through illegal cock-fighting until finally settling among the Dutch in the Pennsylvanian countryside, where he married a young widow and charmed the other Dutch settlers, who proclaimed that “he should have been an actor” (5).

Gilbert bore five children, and “his bright somewhat staring eyes grew dull and bagged” (6) over his lifetime until his sudden death by apoplexy. In death Gilbert’s eyes were “bright and open,” and filled with “a passionate and obscure hunger for voyages” (6), which he passed on to his son Oliver.

The narrative shifts to Gilbert’s heir apparent, Oliver Gant, who at the age of 15 discovers a passion for stone-cutting after encountering a carved funeral

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