The Human Comedy is a novel by William Saroyan. Homer Macauley is a 14 year-old boy growing up fatherless in the San Joaquin Valley of California during World War II. His oldest brother Marcus, is off fighting the war, and Homer feels he needs to be the man of the family. To make money, he takes an evening job as a telegraph boy: sometimes he has to deliver the news to a family that a son has died in the War. Yet Homer also keeps up his normal life, going to school, to church, and to the movies. He is buoyed by his home and his loving family, including a very young brother and a mother who plays the harp. His roots and an almost instinctive sense of right and wrong keep him honest and hopeful. The novel was written to give hope during World War II.
Allusions/references to other works
The Human Comedy also has several references to Homer's Odyssey. Homer is both the name of the author of the Odyssey and the main character in this novel. Homer's young brother's name, Ulysses, is the Roman form of the name Odysseus, the Odyssey's protagonist. The theme of both of the books is going home. Ithaca, is both Homer's and Ulysses' home-town in the novel, and Odysseus' home-island in the Odyssey. Helen Eliot, referring to Helen of Troy, is used as the girl that Homer is in love with.
Homer Macauley,His elder brother Marcus Macauley, His sister Bess Macauley, His younger Brother- Ulysses Macauley (4-year old), His mother Mrs. Kate Macauley and his father Matthew Macauley.
Adapted by S Lee Pogostin for television in 1959 with narration by Burgess Meredith & starring Michael J. Pollard.
It was also adapted into a 1984 Broadway musical by Galt MacDermot, composer of the musical Hair, and William Dumaresq. It starred Stephen Geoffreys, Rex Smith, and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. The musical was well received in Joseph Papp's open-air theatre in Central Park as part of the New York Shakespeare Festival and transferred to Broadway's Royale Theater. The show ran for 20 previews and 13 regular performances, closing on April 15, 1984 after failing to find a new audience. The story was musicalized as a folk opera, with the band performing onstage with the cast. A complete recording of the show was made, but not released until 1997. The musical was revived in 2006 by the Barrington Stage Company, and starred Debby Boone
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