As the daughter of a farmer and, briefly, a homesteader, Cather was intimately acquainted with the conditions faced by the pioneers, many of them immigrants adjusting to new lives far from their native lands and the level of courage, endurance, patience, and strength that was demanded of them in their efforts to tame the frontier. In books such as O Pioneers! Her sensitivity to the problems faced by the immigrant homesteaders is especially acute, and her admiration for their ability to outlast the difficulties awaiting them in their new land is boundless.
Willa Cather American novelist, short story writer, essayist, journalist, and poet. Published inO Pioneers! It is still viewed as one of her best works, and signaled her arrival as a prominent American novelist. Plot and Major Characters O Pioneers!
In the first section of the novel, John Bergson falls ill after struggling to make a living off of his farmland for eleven years. He dies, leaving Alexandra and her three brothers to take care of the family farm. A few years later, the area is hit by a devastating drought and widespread crop failure, which forces several families to sell their land and move.
She loses her best friend, Carl Linstrum, when his family goes bankrupt and leaves for the city. Two of Alexandra's brothers, Oscar and Lou, want to sell the farm, but Alexandra refuses. Moreover, she begins to buy more land, a risky financial move that incurs the disapproval of her brothers.
In the second part, which takes place sixteen years later, Alexandra's instincts have proved successful; in spite of several obstacles, she has expanded her landholdings and implemented innovative farming methods that have made her a rich woman. Her youngest brother, Emil, falls in love with a childhood friend, Marie, who is married to a brooding neighbor.
Alexandra considers marrying her childhood friend, Carl Linstrum, an artist who has fled rural Nebraska for the city. Yet at the end of the second section, he leaves and travels to Alaska to prospect for gold.
The third segment of O Pioneers! In the fourth section, Emil and Marie are killed by her jealous husband after he catches them together. In the fifth and final segment of the novel, Carl returns when he hears of Emil's death. At this point he is ready to commit to Alexandra and the land.
The novel ends with hope and optimism, as Alexandra and Carl look forward to the future. Major Themes Commentators view O Pioneers! Some critics regard the novel as a study of the immigrant experience in America: John Bergson, the sensitive Swedish immigrant, is eventually destroyed by the unrelenting demands of the prairie, which deftly illustrates Old World values crushed by the harshness of the New World.
In addition, O Pioneers! Commentators note that in her descriptions Cather strives to create an atmosphere of separation and alienation, which is juxtaposed against the passion and intensity of the youthful characters in the story.
In addition, critics have explored the implications of passion and romantic love between the characters. Feminist perspectives have been applied to the novel, as the portrayal of female sexuality and Alexandra's role as Earth mother have been discussed.
The symbolism of O Pioneers!Preface. The objective of the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition is to provide to the readers—present and future—various kinds of information relevant to Willa Cather's writing, obtained and presented by the highest scholarly standards: a critical text faithful to her intention as she prepared it for the first edition, a historical essay providing relevant biographical and historical facts.
Willa Cather Critical Essays. In books such as O Pioneers! and My Ántonia, Cather creates vivid fictional portraits of the individuals who peopled the . Cather's title, O Pioneers!, was taken from the Walt Whitman poem, "Pioneers! O Pioneers!" O Pioneers!" What can you say about the relationship between the novel and Whitman's attitude toward the American land and American society as expressed in his poems?
O Pioneers! Willa Cather.
American novelist, short story writer, essayist, journalist, and poet. See also Willa Cather Short Story Criticism.. Published in , O Pioneers! is a novel that. O Pioneers study guide contains a biography of Willa Cather, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a .
Willa Cather’s novel O Pioneers! is all about the land on that windy tabletop setting.
There are three types of characters in this challenging landscape: those who fight the land, those who learn to co-exist with the land, and those who leave.