O’ Pioneers! By: Willa Carther
After reading the novel, O Pioneers! it was hard to judge whether it was a tragedy or a triumph. The only way I see it as a tragedy is that Emil and Maria died. I knew, since page six of the book that they were going to be together. It kind of broke my heart to see later on that she had married someone else. But when her and Emil got shot, I thought it may finish as a tragedy. But overall, I would see it as a triumph in the way that the Bergsons finally got what they wanted out of their land. It made them rich. Also, Alexandra and Carl finally married. And being that the whole novel was basically based on the land, they were triumphant in getting what they risked, what they longed for.
Families on the Great Plains faced many hardships such as weather and the tending of fields. In the novel’s first sentence, it establishes the kind of symbolism it will use: "The little town of Hanover was trying not to be blown away," In my opinion, the land broke the characters rather than the characters breaking the land. The land has its own character, but it also reflects the emotions and personalities of the people who interact with it: the dying John Bergson calls the land "unfriendly to man"; and the melancholy Carl believes that the land "wanted to be left alone." Of course the characters had to plant and sew the fields. Similarly, when Alexandra becomes upset that Carl is leaving the Divide, she looks out over the prairie and sees a country "empty and mournful." In the light of her epiphany, however, Alexandra sees the land as "beautiful and rich and strong and glorious." By the force of her will, she is able to tame the same spirit of the land that her father considered malevolent, making it "bend lower than it ever bent to a human will before." In conquering the land, she reshapes her perception of it.
In considering Cather’s characters, they don’t become fully Americanized within a generation. At the beginning of the novel, it seems like they are more in tuned with the rest of America. They are economically stable. But when Carl comes back on his first visit, Lou and Oscar scorn him about burning Wall Street. Obviously, America is building and becoming more advanced. While still in Nebraska, people are relying on their crops to get them by. They are still dwelling on traits, beliefs, and actions that
past generations had...