Earl  Hamner
Symposium 2001
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Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, MA
Mary Kate Feeney
“The American Dream and Symbolism of Nature Through the Works of Earl Hamner, Jr.”
“Nazi Spies in America During World War II”


During World War II, the United States fought two wars, one with the military, another with the intelligence organizations. While soldiers on all fronts were fighting, Germany was scheming to invade the United States, not with bombs, but with spies. Operation Pastorious, the largest German spy mission, took place in June 1942. This was to be the beginning of a crippling spy ring in the United States. Due to the United States intelligence agencies, this operation failed. The Germans believed that sabotage and espionage were their best weapons against the United States, but they failed, underestimating the United States and overestimating themselves and the quality of their intelligence agency.

While the Germans were scheming to invade America, Earl Hamner, Jr. was growing up in Virginia. He later wrote novels based on his youth and rural Virginia. In his works, Earl Hamner discusses both the mysteries of nature and the quest for the American Dream. In the novels, Spencer's Mountain and The Homecoming, the two main characters Clay Spencer and his eldest son Clay Boy symbolize both the understanding of nature and the necessity of education for achieving the American Dream. Clay Spencer struggles to support his family while at the same time, trying to build his dream house and to help achieve Clay Boy's dream of going to college. Clay and Clay Boy also experience life changing events caused by nature. Clay and Clay Boy symbolize the forces of good and evil within nature.

Photo credit: http://www.the-waltons.com/earl.html