I chose to read Cimarron by Edna Ferber because the movie based on this book won an Oscar in 1931. It was the first western film to do so.
There are many colorful characters in this western tale. Yancey Cravat with his smooth-talking ways stands out. Sabra, Yancey’s wife is a strong female character, but not quite endearing. She was blatantly racist for one and walked around with a sense of entitlement because of her upper-class upbringing. Despite her narrowmindedness she became quite successful in everything she set out to do. She had to be strong because Yancey was so weak and was a terrible husband.
I was disappointed that Yancey turned out to be too much of a dreamer who couldn’t really be completely successful. His success came about in spurts that were some of the best parts of the book. I was left feeling that this was a character that couldn’t ever reach his full potential with his weakness for drink and selfish tendencies. Because of his flair for the dramatic, his ending was both heroic and tragic.
The most entertaining part of the book was based on true accounts of the Osage Indian tribe becoming millionaires during the big oil boom in Oklahoma. This book inspired me to look further into the Osage tribe and I learned that many Osage were murdered by white men who married into the tribe to steal millions of dollars. David Grann wrote a book about it, Killers of the Flower Moon. This book has been added to my pile of books to read.
I think that I will continue to read Edna Ferber’s books. She did win a Pulitzer prize and it is easy to see why. I will say that her books are a bit offensive in when it comes to talking about POC. That is not surprising considering in what era she wrote her books. Despite this I think it is important to read these points of view to try to get a well-rounded understanding of where people are coming from. Even if the language makes one cringe a bit.
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