Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book Review: Mormon Country by Wallace Stegner

Mormon Country
Wallace Stegner includes a couple chapters about the handcarts in this book.  He starts giving a description of the handcart pioneers, and includes Isaac at the beginning of his description.  “They were British converts from the black-belt collieries…  He concludes this chapter with this description of the Martin and Willie Companies’ handcart experience.  “The story of these two caravans of Saints is a story of tragedy second in western history only to the tragedy of the Donnor Party.  The only thing the Donnor Party did that the handcart companies did not was to eat their dead companions.  The Mormons, apparently, were better prepared to die.  Their hope was fixed on heaven, not on the golden shore.  He described how the rations were reduced as the trial became harder in an effort to make them last until help would arrive.  “There was a law of diminishing returns against them.  The harder the way became, the less strength they had to get over it.  The more their bodies clamored for food and warmth, the less food and warmth there were.  The greater their need for haste, the slower their pace became.”
Statements such as these, help me to understand a bit better what the handcart trek must have been like.

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