O Pioneers!

O Pioneers!

by Willa Cather
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Overview

Published in 1913, O Pioneers! is the first novel of Willa Cather's Great Plains trilogy. It follows the life of Alexandra Bergson, a Swedish-American immigrant who inherits the family farm after her father dies. While many immigrant families are selling their farms and leaving the prairie, Alexandra is determined to stay and become a successful farmer.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679743620
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/28/1992
Series: Vintage Classics Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 427,117
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Wilella Sibert Cather (1873 - 1947) is an eminent author from the United States. She is perhaps best known for her depictions of U.S. life in novels such as O Pioneers!, My Ántonia, and Death Comes for the Archbishop.

Other Books of Willa Cather:
• Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927)
• Pioneers! (1913)
• My Ántonia (1918)
• One of Ours (1923)
• Sapphira and the Slave Girl (1940)
• The Song of the Lark (1915)
• The Professor's House (1925)
• The Troll Garden and Selected Stories (1905)
• Youth and the Bright Medusa (1920)
• Not Under Forty (1936)

Date of Birth:

December 7, 1873

Date of Death:

April 27, 1947

Place of Birth:

Winchester, Virginia

Place of Death:

New York, New York

Education:

B.A., University of Nebraska, 1895

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


ONE JANUARY day, thirty years ago, the little town of Hanover, anchored on a windy Nebraska tableland, was trying not to be blown away. A mist of fine snowflakes was curling and eddying about the cluster of low drab buildings huddled on the gray prairie, under a gray sky. The dwelling-houses were set about haphazard on the tough prairie sod; some of them looked as if they had been moved in overnight, and others as if they were straying off by themselves, headed straight for the open plain. None of them had any appearance of permanence, and the howling wind blew under them as well as over them. The main street was a deeply rutted road, now frozen hard, which ran from the squat red railway station and the grain "elevator" at the north end of the town to the lumber yard and the horse pond at the south end. On either side of this road straggled two uneven rows of wooden buildings; the general merchandise stores, the two banks, the drug store, the feed store, the saloon, the post-office. The board sidewalks were gray with trampled snow, but at two o'clock in the afternoon the shopkeepers, having come back from dinner, were keeping well behind their frosty windows. The children were all in school, and there was nobody abroad in the streets but a few rough-looking countrymen in coarse overcoats, with their long caps pulled down to their noses. Some of them had brought their wives to town, and now and then a red or a plaid shawl flashed out of one store into the shelter of another. At the hitch-bars along the street a few heavy work-horses, harnessed to farm wagons, shivered under their blankets. About the station everything was quiet, for there would not be another train in until night.

On the sidewalk in front of one of the stores sat a little Swede boy, crying bitterly. He was about five years old. His black cloth coat was much too big for him and made him look like a little old man. His shrunken brown flannel dress had been washed many times and left a long stretch of stocking between the hem of his skirt and the tops of his clumsy, copper-toed shoes. His cap was pulled down over his ears; his nose and his chubby cheeks were chapped and red with cold. He cried quietly, and the few people who hurried by did not notice him. He was afraid to stop any one, afraid to go into the store and ask for help, so he sat wringing his long sleeves and looking up a telegraph pole beside him, whimpering, "My kitten, oh, my kitten! Her will fweeze!" At the top of the pole crouched a shivering gray kitten, mewing faintly and clinging desperately to the wood with her claws. The boy had been left at the store while his sister went to the doctor's office, and in her absence a dog had chased his kitten up the pole. The little creature had never been so high before, and she was too frightened to move. Her master was sunk in despair. He was a little country boy, and this village was to him a very strange and perplexing place, where people wore fine clothes and had hard hearts. He always felt shy and awkward here, and wanted to hide behind things for fear some one might laugh at him. Just now, he was too unhappy to care who laughed. At last he seemed to see a ray of hope: his sister was coming, and he got up and ran toward her in his heavy shoes.

His sister was a tall, strong girl, and she walked rapidly and resolutely, as if she knew exactly where she was going and what she was going to do next. She wore a man's long ulster (not as if it were an affliction, but as if it were very comfortable and belonged to her; carried it like a young soldier), and a round plush cap, tied down with a thick veil. She had a serious, thoughtful face, and her clear, deep blue eyes were fixed intently on the distance, without seeming to see anything, as if she were in trouble. She did not notice the little boy until he pulled her by the coat. Then she stopped short and stooped down to wipe his wet face.

"Why, Emil! I told you to stay in the store and not to come out. What is the matter with you?"

"My kitten, sister, my kitten! A man put her out, and a dog chased her up there." His forefinger, projecting from the sleeve of his coat, pointed up to the wretched little creature on the pole.

"Oh, Emil! Didn't I tell you she'd get us into trouble of some kind, if you brought her? What made you tease me so? But there, I ought to have known better myself." She went to the foot of the pole and held out her arms, crying, "Kitty, kitty, kitty," but the kitten only mewed and faintly waved its tail. Alexandra turned away decidedly. "No, she won't come down. Somebody will have to go up after her. I saw the Linstrums' wagon in town. I'll go and see if I can find Carl. Maybe he can do something. Only you must stop crying, or I won't go a step. Where's your comforter? Did you leave it in the store? Never mind. Hold still, till I put this on you."

She unwound the brown veil from her head and tied it about his throat. A shabby little traveling man, who was just then coming out of the store on his way to the saloon, stopped and gazed stupidly at the shining mass of hair she bared when she took off her veil; two thick braids, pinned about her head in the German way, with a fringe of reddish-yellow curls blowing out from under her cap. He took his cigar out of his mouth and held the wet end between the fingers of his woolen glove. "My God, girl, what a head of hair!" he exclaimed, quite innocently and foolishly. She stabbed him with a glance of Amazonian fierceness and drew in her lower lip—most unnecessary severity. It gave the little clothing drummer such a start that he actually let his cigar fall to the sidewalk and went off weakly in the teeth of the wind to the saloon. His hand was still unsteady when he took his glass from the bartender. His feeble flirtatious instincts had been crushed before, but never so mercilessly. He felt cheap and ill-used, as if some one had taken advantage of him. When a drummer had been knocking about in little drab towns and crawling across the wintry country in dirty smoking-cars, was he to be blamed if, when he chanced upon a fine human creature, he suddenly wished himself more of a man?

While the little drummer was drinking to recover his nerve, Alexandra hurried to the drug store as the most likely place to find Carl Linstrum. There he was, turning over a portfolio of chromo "studies" which the druggist sold to the Hanover women who did china-painting. Alexandra explained her predicament, and the boy followed her to the corner, where Emil still sat by the pole.

"I'll have to go up after her, Alexandra. I think at the depot they have some spikes I can strap on my feet. Wait a minute." Carl thrust his hands into his pockets, lowered his head, and darted up the street against the north wind. He was a tall boy of fifteen, slight and narrow-chested. When he came back with the spikes, Alexandra asked him what he had done with his overcoat.

"I left it in the drug store. I couldn't climb in it, anyhow. Catch me if I fall, Emil," he called back as he began his ascent. Alexandra watched him anxiously; the cold was bitter enough on the ground. The kitten would not budge an inch. Carl had to go to the very top of the pole, and then had some difficulty in tearing her from her hold. When he reached the ground, he handed the cat to her tearful little master. "Now go into the store with her, Emil, and get warm." He opened the door for the child.

"Wait a minute, Alexandra. Why can't I drive for you as far as our place? It's getting colder every minute. Have you seen the doctor?"

"Yes. He is coming over to-morrow. But he says father can't get better; can't get well." The girl's lip trembled. She looked fixedly up the bleak street as if she were gathering her strength to face something, as if she were trying with all her might to grasp a situation which, no matter how painful, must be met and dealt with somehow. The wind flapped the skirts of her heavy coat about her.
Carl did not say anything, but she felt his sympathy. He, too, was lonely. He was a thin, frail boy, with brooding dark eyes, very quiet in all his movements. There was a delicate pallor in his thin face, and his mouth was too sensitive for a boy's. The lips had already a little curl of bitterness and skepticism. The two friends stood for a few moments on the windy street corner, not speaking a word, as two travelers, who have lost their way, sometimes stand and admit their perplexity in silence. When Carl turned away he said, "I'll see to your team." Alexandra went into the store to have her purchases packed in the egg-boxes, and to get warm before she set out on her long cold drive.

When she looked for Emil, she found him sitting on a step of the staircase that led up to the clothing and carpet department. He was playing with a little Bohemian girl, Marie Tovesky, who was tying her handkerchief over the kitten's head for a bonnet. Marie was a stranger in the country, having come from Omaha with her mother to visit her uncle, Joe Tovesky. She was a dark child, with brown curly hair, like a brunette doll's, a coaxing little red mouth, and round, yellow-brown eyes. Every one noticed her eyes; the brown iris had golden glints that made them look like gold-stone, or, in softer lights, like that Colorado mineral called tiger-eye.

The country children thereabouts wore their dresses to their shoe-tops, but this city child was dressed in what was then called the "Kate Greenaway" manner, and her red cashmere frock, gathered full from the yoke, came almost to the floor. This, with her poke bonnet, gave her the look of a quaint little woman. She had a white fur tippet about her neck and made no fussy objections when Emil fingered it admiringly. Alexandra had not the heart to take him away from so pretty a playfellow, and she let them tease the kitten together until Joe Tovesky came in noisily and picked up his little niece, setting her on his shoulder for every one to see. His children were all boys, and he adored this little creature. His cronies formed a circle about him, admiring and teasing the little girl, who took their jokes with great good nature. They were all delighted with her, for they seldom saw so pretty and carefully nurtured a child. They told her that she must choose one of them for a sweetheart, and each began pressing his suit and offering her bribes: candy, and little pigs, and spotted calves. She looked archly into the big, brown, mustached faces, smelling of spirits and tobacco, then she ran her tiny forefinger delicately over Joe's bristly chin and said, "Here is my sweetheart."

The Bohemians roared with laughter, and Marie's uncle hugged her until she cried, "Please don't, Uncle Joe! You hurt me." Each of Joe's friends gave her a bag of candy, and she kissed them all around, though she did not like country candy very well. Perhaps that was why she bethought herself of Emil. "Let me down, Uncle Joe," she said, "I want to give some of my candy to that nice little boy I found." She walked graciously over to Emil, followed by her lusty admirers, who formed a new circle and teased the little boy until he hid his face in his sister's skirts, and she had to scold him for being such a baby.

The farm people were making preparations to start for home. The women were checking over their groceries and pinning their big red shawls about their heads. The men were buying tobacco and candy with what money they had left, were showing each other new boots and gloves and blue flannel shirts. Three big Bohemians were drinking raw alcohol, tinctured with oil of cinnamon. This was said to fortify one effectually against the cold, and they smacked their lips after each pull at the flask. Their volubility drowned every other noise in the place, and the overheated store sounded of their spirited language as it reeked of pipe smoke, damp woolens, and kerosene.

Carl came in, wearing his overcoat and carrying a wooden box with a brass handle. "Come," he said, "I've fed and watered your team, and the wagon is ready." He carried Emil out and tucked him down in the straw in the wagon-box. The heat had made the little boy sleepy, but he still clung to his kitten.

"You were awful good to climb so high and get my kitten, Carl. When I get big I'll climb and get little boys' kittens for them," he murmured drowsily. Before the horses were over the first hill, Emil and his cat were both fast asleep.

Although it was only four o'clock, the winter day was fading. The road led southwest, toward the streak of pale, watery light that glimmered in the leaden sky. The light fell upon the two sad young faces that were turned mutely toward it: upon the eyes of the girl, who seemed to be looking with such anguished perplexity into the future; upon the sombre eyes of the boy, who seemed already to be looking into the past. The little town behind them had vanished as if it had never been, had fallen behind the swell of the prairie, and the stern frozen country received them into its bosom. The homesteads were few and far apart; here and there a windmill gaunt against the sky, a sod house crouching in a hollow. But the great fact was the land itself, which seemed to overwhelm the little beginnings of human society that struggled in its sombre wastes. It was from facing this vast hardness that the boy's mouth had become so bitter; because he felt that men were too weak to make any mark here, that the land wanted to be let alone, to preserve its own fierce strength, its peculiar, savage kind of beauty, its uninterrupted mournfulness.

The wagon jolted along over the frozen road. The two friends had less to say to each other than usual, as if the cold had somehow penetrated to their hearts.

Table of Contents

About Author:

Part 1

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Part 2

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Part 3

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Part 4

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Part 5

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"[Kate Reading] delivers the vivid narrative with dulcet tones and magnificent phrasing.... Listeners will enjoy the beauty of her delivery." —-AudioFile

Customer Reviews

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XXO Pioneers! (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 66 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cather is a very talented writer and uses many allusions making the book interesting and charming. Her decriptions of charachters such as Alexandra Bergson is imperssive, not to mention that the whole theme of this story is humbling and teaches a lesson. READ IT!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This beautiful novel deserves much more than a five-star rating. One of the greatest American classics. Highly recommended for all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was a bit hesitant to read this because I have always hated 'classics' and I figured I'd have a difficult time getting into it. I was way off. I breezed right through this book and I loved it! I love reading about the hardships of the frontier life. Also this book is written really smoothly, none of the usual hard to read problem that a lot of classics have.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Willa Cather has written a wonderful and inventive novel about the open prarier and the hardships immagrent families had to face. I recommend this book to any one who is interested in romance, adventure, and historical novels. An all around great book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am reading this book for school. I am a sophmore and i am already hooked, even though i am only on chapter 5! If we werent going so slowly and filling out worksheets, i would have already finished this book. I am so excited to finish it and i highly suggest it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although O Pioneers! May induce thoughts of adventure and toils on the risky Nebraska wild lands, it has a fairly calm tone. The adventures, or should I say slow happenings over a twenty- five year span, are about as exciting as watching the grass grow, which is almost what this book is about. When you meet the main character and her family, she is fifteen, with three brothers a dying father and a mother who complains of the old country. Even though the ground never got to bumpy and the wagon only tipped over once or twice, this story wasn't that bad. I think you could have cut out a few chapters of watching the grass grow and still had that never-ending life on the farm effect. I wouldn't recommend O Pioneers! If your looking for a suspense filled thriller but if you are looking for a nice calm book about the trials of pioneering, this is it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Willa Cather demonstrates that she is at ease with her writing and with her idealization of pioneer life in early America. The story peeks into the heart of a true farmer, one who has an innate love for the land. With simplicity of language and an intriguing development of events, the author cradles the reader into the realm of Alexandra's passionate mission, and allows the reader to taste of the bitterness of the stubborn land as well as bask in the glory of the taming of the land. This is where 'John Steinbeck meets Laura Ingalls Wilder,' and the journey is filled with breathtaking prairies, suspenseful moments of tension, and the joy of life, itself! This is Willa Cather in her most natural voice, a voice filled with wisdom, trasparency, and the pain that develops from failure while forming the substance of character.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Should be required reading for everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a well written book. Willa Cather is an excellent author and knows how to hold one's interest. Vewy interesting to read and fairly easy. Really enjoyed it.
wingsofjoy More than 1 year ago
While this book was not exciting, nor did it particularly have anything to keep me vitally interested, it was a good look at the lives of some of America's pioneers, exploring not only their lives and circumstances, but many of their feelings. It affirmed that people in that time were very much like us in desires and needs; but often their opportunities to meet those needs and desires was greatly diminished. Many good insights into a life past, and plenty to make me very grateful for the "easy" life I have.
TXYellowrose More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book.
MissBonnieNC More than 1 year ago
Such beautiful descriptive words (and that's saying something for the Nebraska prairie). As with her other books, she first paints a picture of the landscape and you don't realize that the story has also been hued into the painting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have a feeling the one person who described the story as horrible most likely has never read anything but a comic book....and probably just looked at the pictures. I actually feel sorry for him or her. Must be so sad and miserable...
cfk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Cather is a wonderful writer, painting a hard-edged world in beautiful strokes. I didn't enjoy this one as much as others by her because I don't handle depressing stories especially well.
bookworm12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set in Nebraska at the beginning of the 20th century. The Bergsons, a family of Swedish immigrants, struggle to succeed with their farm. When their father dies, the eldest daughter Alexandra inherits the farm. She cares for her younger brothers and makes the hard decisions, which bring them success. Years later, Alexandra's relationship with her childhood friend, Carl Linstrum, causes tension between her and her brothers. Her youngest brother, Emil, falls in love with the married bohemian, Marie Shabata. The plot seems simple enough, but it was so much more than that. Alexandra is a strong woman who isn't afraid of trying new things, even though her brothers are. She follows her heart and embraces outcasts when others turn their backs. Cather's descriptions of the land just drip with love for it. You can't read this without understanding her passion for it and her respect for the pioneers themselves. I was completely swept away by the simplicity of the tale. I loved the character and the way it was written and will definitely be reading more of her work.
cdeuker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Some of the most beautiful nature writing I've ever come across. She can make you feel the land. Story is also interesting, but the ending is a bit offensive to modern sensibilities. How exactly does Marie "deserve" to be killed by her loutish husband. Why would Alexandra feel sympathy for the man who killed . . . killed! . . . her brother. Has me scratching my head.
brenzi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Willa Cather¿s poetic novel, O Pioneers! tells two love stories that take place on the Nebraska tableland in the late 1800¿s. Feisty, intelligent, independent, bigger-than-life Alexandra Bergson embodies the true frontier woman who could do it all. When her father dies, he leaves the farm for her to run rather than her two older brothers. John Bergson knows that his daughter¿s management skills will make the farm successful. When she buys up the properties of other families, who give up on the plains and return to steady jobs in the city, she assures both the future of her family¿s interests and the wrath of her brothers. But something is missing in Alexandra¿s life that the land cannot fulfill. Her love interest is childhood friend, Carl Linstrum, who has chosen to leave the Nebraska homeland of his Swedish ancestors to look for something that¿s missing in his life, only to find that he won¿t fulfill his dreams in the city either:¿Here you are an individual, you have a background of your own, you would be missed. But off there in the cities there are thousands of rolling stones like me. We are all alike; we have no ties, we know nobody, we own nothing. When one of us dies, they scarcely know where to bury him. Our landlady and the delicatessen man are our mourners, and we leave nothing behind us but a frock coat and a fiddle, or an easel, or a typewriter, or whatever tool we got our living by. All we have ever managed to do is pay our rent, the exorbitant rent that one has to pay for a few square feet of space near the heart of things. We have no house, no place, no people of our own. We live in the streets, the parks, in the theatres. We sit in restaurants and concert halls and look about at the hundreds of our own kind and shudder.¿ (Page 123)Alexandra¿s younger brother Emil holds all her dreams. She sees to it that he gets a college education and has great hopes for his future. But his wandering spirit belies his illicit love that leads to the startling climax.Cather leaves no doubt that this is a novel about the great pioneer spirit that built our country and the lure and love of the land that was so inherent in those early settlers. But she also makes it clear that the land is bigger than any individual and, try as they might, they will never control it. Most of the characters in the story are unhappy with their marriages and their lives in general. In the hands of a less skillful writer, this would have come across as heavy-handed but Cather is a genius who helps us to see that these pioneering spirits were just human, just like you and me, and the relentlessly grim conditions of their lives left little else for them.Short, sweet, poetic and powerful and highly recommended
cbl_tn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
O Pioneers! is a love story with a twist. While Alexandra Bergson has great affection for her household and neighbors, the love of her life is the Nebraska prairie farmland settled by her Swedish immigrant family. Alexandra's spirit is as expansive as the land, while her two oldest brothers are small-minded and unimaginative. Alexandra finds kindred spirits in her youngest brother, Emil, her neighbor, Carl Linstrum, and her neighbor, Bohemian Marie Shabata. Cather's writing has a timelessness that conveys the enthusiasm of youth, and both the hope and risk of homesteading. I listened to this one on audio, and I thought it enhanced my experience of the book. The reader's precise, unrushed delivery perfectly matched Alexandra's personality. Highly recommended.
LukeS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Willa Cather gives us a memorable set of archetypal characters who revolve around Mother Earth, Alexandra Bergson. Much of what happens tastes fairly bitterly of fate, and the characters are pushed into situations which force them to act at cross-purposes with happiness.What lasts is the hard-won triumph of the titular characters, the visionary and inexhaustible Alexandra most of all.
ARICANA on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was Willa Cather´s first great novel, and to many it remains her unchallenged masterpiece. No other work of fiction so faithfully conveys both the sharp physical realities and the mythic sweep of the transformation of the american frontier and the transformation of the people who settled it. Cather´s heroin is Alexandra Bergson, who arrives on the windblasted prairie of Hanover, Nebraska, as a girl and grows up to make it a prosperous farm. But this archetypal success story is darkened by loss, and Alexandra´s devotion to the land may come at the cost of love itself.
melopher on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novella was my introduction to Willa Cather, and I found it to be so much more than I thought it would be. The language was simple yet powerful, the descriptions were poetic yet clear, the theme strong and touching. The story itself was not one that I thought to find in a book written 100 years ago, and so surprised me. As far as pace goes, I was not bothered at all by the time jump that seemed to irritate many people.I really loved how beautifully, painfully, precisely Willa Cather showed how the prairie changed from it's pioneer days to it's more modern days. I don't know if I've ever before read a coming-of-age story regarding land instead of a person, but that is just what this seemed to be. The theme was so achingly apparent to me that this has become my favorite of Willa Cather's so far.
cestovatela on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
During Cather's time, the story of a woman who succeeded on her own was probably an original one. These days, a determined woman who can run her own farm is a story you've read before. This is a work of literature that doesn't really stand the test of time.
Kace on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The thing with Willa Cather is...shes a celebrated Nebraska writer, and she was alright, a bit too dark for my taste, and I much preferred Bess Streeter Aldrich stories, another Nebraska author, though granted a transplanted one. Overall, I guess I preferred the rosier outlook of Aldrich than Cather, a personal choice I know. I just think there's this hype about Cather due in part to her "edgier, darker undertones, and her willingness to go a little risque for the times." I quote myself in case your wondering. I think that people have equated that with brilliance, a brilliance I don't necessarily think was there. She was a good writer, I just don't think she lives up to the Nebraska hype.
lunacat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a delightful tale of life and death on the American frontier. The descriptions of the land were sublime and the people within this story were all well rounded and realistic, with both strengths and weaknesses within each. My main complaint is that there wasn't enough of it. I felt there was a 400 page book hidden in this 122 page novella. The characters seemed to have so much more to tell, and we only got a glimpse of that within this book.But maybe......just maybe, sometimes less is more.In one line: Short tale of life and death and the beauty of a wilderness.
jmchshannon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Willa Cather has a way with the English language. Stark, simplistic and yet utterly poetic in its descriptions. Just like the Nebraska farmland, on the surface O Pioneers appears sparse and flat. However, just like Alexandra, the reader so determines that there is an unspoken depth and beauty to the story that requires care and thought. O Pioneers is not just about living on a Nebraska farm. Rather, it is about pushing the envelope, about living life the way you want to live it without worrying about social decorum, about love. Life may be harsh, and there is plenty to remind the reader of that fact with death, loneliness, and unhappiness around every corner. Still, in Alexandra, Ms. Cather created a heroine that not only challenged women's rights, but she also broke ground on the idea of the necessity of finding love to be happy. While flawed, with her inability to relate to human emotions, she champions the idea of equality - in life and in love. By successfully growing her father's farm, she proves that women are just as capable of managing the land as a man. By not getting married, she epitomizes the idea that a woman does not have to be a wife to be happy. Through other examples, Ms. Cather shows that only equality matters in a marriage or else the marriage will be an unhappy one. It is is a lesson that carries over into other aspects of life.O Pioneers is not a long novel, and the simple nature of the words means that most people can breeze through the novel in a relatively short period of time. It presents a fascinating picture of life in the great plains at the turn of the century, and one can get a clear image of the hardships endured to scrabble a life from the soil. However, a reader should take his or her time reading to pick up on the subtle lessons Ms. Cather presents through Alexandra, Carl, Frank, Emil and Marie because they are more important than any description of farm living. If you love classics and have not yet added Willa Cather to your repertoire, I highly recommend checking out O Pioneers for these lessons and historical picture.