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The Trail of the Hawk

Sinclair Lewis

Book Overview: 

Trail of the Hawk, is Sinclair Lewis’ second novel published under his own name. It was not at the time of release a smashing success as his later works, Babbitt, Elmer Gantry, and others, but his style and immense talent are certainly evident.

We travel with The Hawk, or Carl Ericson, son of Norwegian immigrants, born at the end of the 19th century through the first three adventurous periods of the young man’s life. We see him as an adventurous boy, running away with Gertie Cowels, the girl that lives in the big house in the better part of town, only to be rescued by Bone Stillman, a backwoods philosopher and influence on Carl.

We travel with him as he leaves his childhood, Gertie and Joralemon behind, for a short attempt at higher education, then to pursue the hobo life, a Bowery bartender, an engineer in Panama and an aviator. It is during the aviator phase that he becomes Hawk Ericson barnstorming his way across America, an exciting but dangerous lifestyle. Leaving aviation after too many close calls, and the loss of his best friend, he becomes an automobile man, and moves into phase three.

It is in phase three, love adventure, that we find The Hawk in New York, mingling with polite society quite by accident. He is smitten by Ruth Winslow, while riding on a streetcar after a fight with Gertie, and follows Ruth to a party which he crashes.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Gertie, because he had, in freshman year, exhausted all the things one can say about the weather without being profane. When, in October, a new bank clerk stormed, meteor-like, the Joralemon social horizon, and became devoted to Gertie, as faithfully reported in letters from Joe Jordan, Carl was melancholy over the loss of a comrade. But he strictly confined his mourning to leisure hours—and with books, football, and chores for the banker, he was a busy young man.... After about ten days it was a relief not to have to plan letters to Gertie. The emotions that should have gone to her Carl devoted to Professor Frazer's new course in modern drama.

This course was officially announced as a study of Bernard Shaw, Ibsen, Strindberg, Pinero, Hauptmann, Sudermann, Maeterlinck, D'Annunzio, and Rostand; but unofficially announced by Professor Frazer as an attempt to follow the spirit of to-day wherever it should be found in contemporary literature. Carl and the Turk . . . Read More