Look Homeward, Angel
Oliver Gant was one of five children born of a Dutch mother and English father in America. As soon as he was old enough, he left his family and set out to see the world. Gant finally landed in Baltimore, where he worked as an apprentice to a headston
carver. After apprenticing for five years, he moved South hoping for good opportunities and set up his own shop. He married there, but his wife died before they had been married long. Gant, looking for a better place to work, moved to North Carolina.
he finally settled in a young, bustling town named Altamont. He set up his own shop and once again began working as a carver. He felt he would be very successful in Altamont due to the growth the town was experiencing. He met a woman named Eliza Pent
nd. Eliza had a knack for investing in prosperous real estate and making good trades. Over the span of a year Gant and Eliza fell in love and married. They were happy at first, but Eliza wanted Gant to change to a more profitable profession. Gant tr
d to work somewhere else, but he was a man of independence. He enjoyed being his own boss, so he went back to carving headstones for a living.
Gant and Eliza had many children together, but three were stillborn. Five sons and two daughters survived. Eugene was the youngest, Helen was the third, and Ben was fourth, born with twin brother Grover. Gant was having one of his drunken fits the d
Eugene was born. Generally when Gant had a fit he directed his ire at Eliza, and he could only be restrained by neighbors or other people. The only person who could occasionally restrain him was his daughter, Helen. Helen was fearless in her attempt
to calm her father.
Eliza was greatly affected by these fits. She always received the brunt of the anger, and she became tired of it. Eliza did not want to live her life under such circumstances so she picked up the children and left. Eliza heard of the World’s Fair in
aint Louis that year, 1904, so she took the children there. She hoped for something better in the future than the life she had been living. The family had a great time at the fair. The sights and sounds amazed the children. Eugene was especially exc
ed at the opportunity to learn more. Things seemed to be improving for Eliza and the children until the unfortunate day that Grover fell terribly ill. He was diagnosed with typhoid. Gant came to Saint Louis as quickly as possible but to no avail, for
rover died not long after. Grover’s death left a deep scar in the hearts of the Gant family, but none as much as Eliza. After this tragic experience the family returned to life in Altamont.
Eugene became more and more enthralled by learning, and he the next year wanted to go to school. He loved reading, which he learned immediately, but despised writing. He continued to despise writing until the day that his friend, Max, tried to change
is mind. After the example Max showed him, Eugene began to see the value of writing as an instrument of communication.
Although Eugene dearly loved learning, he did not share the same love for school. The other students teased him constantly and chased him around the playground so much that he began to stay in and read instead of playing with the others during recess.
Eugene spent most of his time reading everything he could get his hands on. He practically lived at the library. His imagination ran wild with all of the fantasies he read and fantasies of his own.
Eugene had hardly been in school a few years when his family hit hard times. His parents forced the children to find jobs to support the family. Ben took a job as a paper boy, where he worked hard and did very well. Ben was completely selfless in hi
work. What little money he had left over he spent on gifts for others. Eugene did not want to work at all, but was finally forced to peddle The Saturday Evening Post magazine. He dreaded working and especially hated this job.
Eliza decided that her real estate was not bringing in