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The Human Comedy (1943) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • Teenager Homer Macauley stays at home in small-town Ithaca to support his family while his older brother Marcus prepares to go to war.

  • Homer Macauley remains in a small town looking after his widowed mother and younger brother while his older brother is fighting the war in Europe.

  • Recently-deceased Matthew Macauley looks down upon his family in small-town Ithaca, where eldest son Marcus has departed to await deployment for combat in the Second World War. This leaves middle son Homer to support the family by working at a telegraph station. Now the man of the family, Homer comes of age amidst the clarion call of war, while youngest son Ulysses discovers the wonders of life, and Marcus inspires his platoon mate, foundling Tobey George, with stories of idyllic Ithaca.

  • Deceased Matthew Macauley watches over his family from heaven. Two years after his death, his second-eldest son Homer is the de facto head of the family, as eldest son Marcus being in the army. Teenage Homer has to look after his mother Kate, elder sister Bess, adolescent brother Ulysses, and Mary Arena, their next-door neighbor who is Marcus' girlfriend. They all live in the farming community of Ithaca, California. Homer gets an afterschool job as night messenger at the postal telegraph office; he likes most everything about his job except some of the messages he must deliver, especially death notices from the War Office. Elderly Willie Grogan, the head telegrapher, deals with the death notices his own way. Tom Spangler, is dealing with issues of where he fits into the war world. Homer grows up quickly as he deals with typical teenage issues like a crush on a girl and a hunger to win the 220 low-hurdles race in the upcoming track meet. Meanwhile, Marcus and his new army friend Tobey George, an orphan looking for a place he can call home, hope they will survive the war so that they can return to a civilian life in Ithaca.

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