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Tree of Man, The

stan wife amy elsie

a novel by Patrick White, published in 1956. Beginning in the 1880s and ending in the 1930s, this is the epic story of a New South Wales farmer, Stan Parker, and his wife, Amy. Their lives and destinies are shaped by their hazardous relationship with the land and the forces and disasters of nature. Their neighbours, too, influence the course of their eventual emotional separation. Amy finds solace in rearing her late-born children, in fantasizing about the lives of her glamorous neighbours, and eventually, to Stan's despair, in a casual affair with a passing stranger. Stan, now a veteran of the First World War, retreats into his own poetic fantasies, which draw him still further away from his wife. Their son, Ray, a delinquent, is shot in a fight, leaving behind him his wife, Elsie, and a son, Amy finds an emotional outlet in her relationships with Elsie and the child: her daughter, Thelma, has chosen an arid urban life. In his old age Stan sees his farm engulfed by ugly suburban developments, and dies disillusioned and unfulfilled, after a negative epiphanic experience. But the novel ends with the indication that his yearning for poetic expression will be fulfilled by his grandson, who dreams of writing a masterpiece.

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