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Man of the Family by Ralph Moody
University of Nebraska Press
Number of pages:


The Moody family, transplanted from New England, builds a new life on a Colorado ranch early in the twentieth century. Father has died and young Ralph shoulders the responsibilities of a man at age eleven. Ralph is determined to make a living for his family, and Mother is even more determined that her son remains in school. This is an affectionate portrait of ranch-town people who knew how to help without humiliating, and a warm tribute to a woman who was unable to give her children much in the way of material goods.

Ralph learns many valuable lessons, and the reader is awed by his determination along with his ability and inventiveness in pursuit of employment to satisfy the needs of his family.

Strong points:

  • No price can be placed upon the storehouse of wealth by way of virtue and example passed from Mother to son. Hard work, determination, honesty, ingenuity and courage top the list of gratuitous gifts.
  • Above all, Ralph’s loyalty to his mother is matched only by his practical consideration for his brothers and sisters.
  • A keep portrayal of Ralph’s unselfish heart is evidenced effectively when he is willing to always think less of himself and more of his family.
  • Demonstrates the willingness and courage of a boy to shoulder responsibility, making sacrifices for love of his family.
  • Acquaints the youth of today with the happiness of living in the spirit of poverty.


  • This is not a Catholic family. They are Protestant; however, they do not work on Sunday.
  • There are some curse words used by cowboys on certain pages, i.e., pp. 21, 48, 51, 52.


This story has much to offer the elementary school teacher by way of the forming of good character. If taught with caution and explanation concerning the different religion and rough occasional language of the cowboy, it is an excellent portrayal of life in the mid-west during the early years of 1900. It should not be a problem for use in the classroom.