Gap Creek is set in South Carolina and tells the story of a couple newly married at the turn of the century. Julie, the wife, was a hardworking woman who grew up in a house of mainly girls and was often called upon to do the more difficult chores during her father’s long illness and then after his death. This hard work prepared her to be a better wife and to work hard at her marriage. Hank, on the other hand, was born prematurely and was often spoiled and given extra portions at meals and less work at chore time. This resulted in his being quick to anger, unable to admit faults, and demanding. Through the novel we learn of the couple’s hardships as they try to work through their difficulties that they brought to the marriage and that were inflicted though the deeds of others. They experience poverty, robbery, floods, and death. These experiences lead Hank to become abusive but they lead Julie to become more humble and willing to make allowances for the problems of others. It is only through a tragic experience that Hank is able to join her in this humility and is able to step up as a husband.
I thought that there were many interesting lessons to be learned from this novel. Julie’s patience and understanding are foremost in my mind. Her husband Hank is abusive and she works to help him overcome his problems instead of fighting back. Several times through the book she had cause and opportunity to bring up his faults but instead chose a kind answer. I think this shows amazing strength and character and can teach us all a thing or two in our relationships. There are times when it is best to just keep quiet and let life run its course. Julie is humble by choice while Hank is compelled to be so through tragedy but the amazing thing is that he does change. In the end of the book Hank is a different man than from the beginning and he makes the effort to become a better person thus leading to one of the great lessons of this novel; change is possible.