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foxycat
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II --Alex and Ivar

Besides her tolerance of his eccentricity, Alex has great respect for Ivar because he's in touch with the needs of animals. Animals are part of the natural landscape, the land.
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. --Oscar Wilde

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foxycat
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II --OT- Garrison Keillor

Pepper--
Sorry, didn't know you came from that area. Keillor is not exactly who he appears in his radio persona. He writes for "The New Yorker" too, one of the country's, perhaps even the world's, most sophisticated and urbane magazines. He's a brilliant serious writer as well as a parodist.

Anyway, some of his stories about the folk who settled or live in "Lake Woebegon, Minnesota" are reminiscent of some people in OP, Ivar and Alex in particular.

BTW, here's a rather dark still from the film, with Jessica Lange as Alex:

http://fly.hiwaay.net/~oliver/jlopioneers.htm

I must rent it again. I've set up a thread to discuss the film.
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. --Oscar Wilde

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AJ981979
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II --Alex and Ivar

I've always thought Alexandra saw the wisdom in trying to make a living off the land and befriending a man who knew more of the land and nature than anyone else in the area. Truly, Ivar could offer more information about local climate than anyone else, and that information would be priceless to a farmer.

Also, I wonder if maybe she didn't see a fellow ostracized creature (you have to realize how odd she was herself) and see someone you could understand her isolation.

Regardless, it's an intriguing relationship.



foxycat wrote:
Besides her tolerance of his eccentricity, Alex has great respect for Ivar because he's in touch with the needs of animals. Animals are part of the natural landscape, the land.


~ Happiness is a good book, a sleeping cat, and a glass of wine. ~
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kiakar
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II --Alex

Alex was really truly before her time. It is strange, that her father saw Alex's inner self and not just judged her for being female and not being able to accomplish what a man could. He looked within. And he was quick to judge his sons as not having the stamina to endure into the future with success. The guys were not lazy but didn't have the visions that Alex and her father were consumed with. I love Cather's writing being so descriptive and precise. Alex invisions the whole picture, not just the crops, not just the animals but the land, the start of it all.
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kiakar
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II --Alex and Ivar



foxycat wrote:
Besides her tolerance of his eccentricity, Alex has great respect for Ivar because he's in touch with the needs of animals. Animals are part of the natural landscape, the land.




Ivar seemed like such an interesting person. The mystery about him shined brightly through Cather's writings. Why he was alone and lived in such a small house and how he obtained the knowledge about animals. Was it a gift? Was he taught? I have only read Part 1 and now I will go read Part 11.
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foxycat
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II --Alex and Ivar

I don't see her as ostracized, maybe unusual. She has friends and family, and the respect of the whole community. If you mean it's unusual for a single woman to run a farm alone, let's ask Pepper, our history expert--how unusual was it for a woman to run a homestead? And wouldn't widows have run their own homesteads?



AJ981979 wrote:
I've always thought Alexandra saw the wisdom in trying to make a living off the land and befriending a man who knew more of the land and nature than anyone else in the area. Truly, Ivar could offer more information about local climate than anyone else, and that information would be priceless to a farmer.

Also, I wonder if maybe she didn't see a fellow ostracized creature (you have to realize how odd she was herself) and see someone you could understand her isolation.

Regardless, it's an intriguing relationship.



Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. --Oscar Wilde

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Peppermill
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Parts I and II -- Alex and Ivar

LOL -- no history expert here, at best, a dilettante here and there, and I'm not even certain about that!

Anyway -- women farmers -- they were and are unusual. (Sidebar: US farming country has -- or at least has had -- a few states where males even out number females.) But women ranchers and farmers did and do exist -- a number have written their stories. Some of them didn't have families to which to return or they had sons to do the farm work. A few had always been accustomed to doing outside work themselves. Some, like Alex after her brothers moved away, used hired hands. Others would have re-married as soon as possible.

Being ostracized is often relative -- even a bit self-imposed. I see that as applying to Alex. Her brothers bring her word of the community attitudes toward her treatment of Ivar. Her female friend is Marie, not her brothers' wives.

Lou's wife Anne says of Ivar: "He is a disgraceful object, and you're fixed up so nice now. It sort of makes people distant with you, when they never know when they'll hear him scratching about..." p. 60.

foxycat wrote:
I don't see her as ostracized, maybe unusual. She has friends and family, and the respect of the whole community. If you mean it's unusual for a single woman to run a farm alone, let's ask Pepper, our history expert--how unusual was it for a woman to run a homestead? And wouldn't widows have run their own homesteads?

AJ981979 wrote:
I've always thought Alexandra saw the wisdom in trying to make a living off the land and befriending a man who knew more of the land and nature than anyone else in the area. Truly, Ivar could offer more information about local climate than anyone else, and that information would be priceless to a farmer.

Also, I wonder if maybe she didn't see a fellow ostracized creature (you have to realize how odd she was herself) and see someone you could understand her isolation.

Regardless, it's an intriguing relationship.

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Peppermill
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II --OT - Garrison Keillor


foxycat wrote:
Pepper -- Sorry, didn't know you came from that area. Keillor is not exactly who he appears in his radio persona. He writes for "The New Yorker" too, one of the country's, perhaps even the world's, most sophisticated and urbane magazines. He's a brilliant serious writer as well as a parodist.

Anyway, some of his stories about the folk who settled or live in "Lake Woebegon, Minnesota" are reminiscent of some people in OP, Ivar and Alex in particular...

No apologies needed. Sorry if I got snippy -- I don't know why the "chemistry" doesn't work with Keillor for me. Maybe it's because some of what has been pushed to me has seemed superficial, so I have not explored other of his work. Maybe because he has become so well known that Minnesota seems to be interpreted through him and Mary Tyler Moore at times -- and that "feels" inadequate to me. As you point out, and as I said earlier, he's a very talented man.
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Peppermill
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II Nebraska and Cather


foxycat wrote:
That's OK. We don't have too many readers crowding you out here. So are you saying they ARE referring to the Continental Divide in the novel?

Peppermill wrote:
... Sorry. I will quit now!


As best I can tell, Cather is NOT referring to the Continental Divide in the novel, but rather more local "divides" that direct the water toward the Republican River or the Platte River and its tributaries, both of which are part of the Mississippi-Missouri basin draining into the Gulf.
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Everyman
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II --The land as hero

One reason, perhaps, is that Alex doesn't have to actually work the land, as the boys do. She is able to (or gets to or has to) manage other peoples' labor. She is a manager, not a laborer, and the managers in any enterprise tend to be rewarded more than the laborers.

When Alex says she loves the land, it's not quite clear to me exactly what it is that she loves. If she loves the physical labor of working the land, breaking sod, plowing soil, harvesting, it may be only because she doesn't have to do those things. As the boys point out, she may be the one to decide to buy more land on mortgage, but it's their labor that has to grow the crops to pay off the mortgage.

What is it that she loves? Does she love the raw land itself, before humans have touched it? Does she love looking at tamed land growing crops to feed her family and provide for their economic needs? Does she love the fact of ownership, that this is HER land? What exactly is it that she loves?


foxycat wrote:
Cather famously called the land the hero of the book. She only reluctantly called Alex her heroine. The land begins wild, goes through some terrible times, but finally becomes civilized. What are the differing attitudes toward the land among Alex, her brothers and her mother? Why does only Alex succeed?

Message Edited by foxycat on 12-01-2007 08:34 PM


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Everyman
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II --The land as hero



foxycat wrote:
Alex is what attracted me to this book. She's a remarkable woman.

I differ from you a bit here. I find her not a well drawn or particularly interesting character. I don't see much depth or complexity there, nor much character development; she seems after the passage of 16 years to be basically the same person, unchanged by the years, which rarely happens in real life. She doesn't seem all that concerned about the happiness of the people around her. She seems basically emotionless, almost a robot going through the process of doing what her computer brain tells her to.

That's a bit extreme, I recognize, but it's the best way of describing my view of her, at least to this point in the book.
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Everyman
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II Nebraska and Cather

I agree.

Peppermill wrote:
As best I can tell, Cather is NOT referring to the Continental Divide in the novel, but rather more local "divides" that direct the water toward the Republican River or the Platte River and its tributaries, both of which are part of the Mississippi-Missouri basin draining into the Gulf.
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foxycat
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Parts I and II -- Alex and Ivar

Pepper--
I missed the comment by Lou's wife Ann. I guess Alex is somewhat ostracized, but she does what she feels is right. I also think she is not given to outer displays of emotion, but keeps most of it inside. She is even circumspect in expressing her love for Carl in Part II.
They both talk around it in a proper Victorian manner.

Kiakar is going to be disappointed. There is no explanation for Ivar's lifestyle and beliefs.
He's a sort of shaman and hermit combined. He just lives his life the way it feels right to him, and Cather doesn't explain him. That would be a whole separate book.
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. --Oscar Wilde

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foxycat
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Parts I and II -- Manifest Destiny and Native Americans

We know that in the 19th Century, Americans believed in Manifest Destiny, their right to move westward and occupy all of the land between the oceans. We have great respect for their struggle and their triumph. At the same time, we also know that the dislocation and slaughter of Native Americans made this possible. The land was not really there for the taking; it had belonged to someone. Do you have any problem reconciling these two ideas in your mind? Do you think Cather did?
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. --Oscar Wilde

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Peppermill
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Parts I and II -- Land


foxycat wrote:
We know that in the 19th Century, Americans believed in Manifest Destiny, their right to move westward and occupy all of the land between the oceans. We have great respect for their struggle and their triumph. At the same time, we also know that the dislocation and slaughter of Native Americans made this possible. The land was not really there for the taking; it had belonged to someone. Do you have any problem reconciling these two ideas in your mind? Do you think Cather did?
I have always loved the Indian expression: the land is borrowed from our grandchildren!

How different than European primogeniture.

There can be something primal about relationship to land. I don't know how to put it into words, nor, off-hand, who could lend me a quotation at this moment. For me, it is hearing a meadowlark sing or spotting a black-bird in the rushes alongside a creek or seeing the black loam. I have never been one to be particularly an outdoors person, but I feel as if I know in my bones what Cather or Rolvaag mean. It can be sort of a creative symbiosis. And, it can involve hate or fear, too.
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Everyman
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Parts I and II -- Manifest Destiny and Native Americans

That's a complex question which I have opinions about, but I think it would be a distraction from the discussion if we got into the issue here. If Melissa thinks it's okay, then okay. But it really doesn't have much to do with the book and could become a distraction.

Your ruling, Madam Moderator?

foxycat wrote:
We know that in the 19th Century, Americans believed in Manifest Destiny, their right to move westward and occupy all of the land between the oceans. We have great respect for their struggle and their triumph. At the same time, we also know that the dislocation and slaughter of Native Americans made this possible. The land was not really there for the taking; it had belonged to someone. Do you have any problem reconciling these two ideas in your mind? Do you think Cather did?


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Peppermill
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Parts I and II -- Manifest Destiny and Native Americans

Isn't Rochelle (Foxycat) moderator here?


Everyman wrote:
That's a complex question which I have opinions about, but I think it would be a distraction from the discussion if we got into the issue here. If Melissa thinks it's okay, then okay. But it really doesn't have much to do with the book and could become a distraction.

Your ruling, Madam Moderator?

foxycat wrote:
We know that in the 19th Century, Americans believed in Manifest Destiny, their right to move westward and occupy all of the land between the oceans. We have great respect for their struggle and their triumph. At the same time, we also know that the dislocation and slaughter of Native Americans made this possible. The land was not really there for the taking; it had belonged to someone. Do you have any problem reconciling these two ideas in your mind? Do you think Cather did?


"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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kiakar
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Parts I and II -- Alex and Ivar



foxycat wrote:
Pepper--
I missed the comment by Lou's wife Ann. I guess Alex is somewhat ostracized, but she does what she feels is right. I also think she is not given to outer displays of emotion, but keeps most of it inside. She is even circumspect in expressing her love for Carl in Part II.
They both talk around it in a proper Victorian manner.

Kiakar is going to be disappointed. There is no explanation for Ivar's lifestyle and beliefs.
He's a sort of shaman and hermit combined. He just lives his life the way it feels right to him, and Cather doesn't explain him. That would be a whole separate book.




Hey I am getting confused with you all calling Lou's wife Ann. I thought it was Annie.
I guess because that was my mother's name, and I think of it as always Annie and never Ann. ha. Foxycat, it would make a great read, Ivar that is.
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kiakar
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II --The land as hero



Everyman wrote:


foxycat wrote:
Alex is what attracted me to this book. She's a remarkable woman.

I differ from you a bit here. I find her not a well drawn or particularly interesting character. I don't see much depth or complexity there, nor much character development; she seems after the passage of 16 years to be basically the same person, unchanged by the years, which rarely happens in real life. She doesn't seem all that concerned about the happiness of the people around her. She seems basically emotionless, almost a robot going through the process of doing what her computer brain tells her to.

That's a bit extreme, I recognize, but it's the best way of describing my view of her, at least to this point in the book.




I guess its the way you read Alex. We all differ in our opinions of a character. Its like we expect a certain thing from a character and we aren't happy with them if they do not conform to this. I do not believe she never worked the land, probably she worked a garden for eating and fed and kept the livestock. And maybe occassionally cleaned and cooked and house duties. And she handled the managing of the place. So to me she was equal to her brothers in keeping the land. I think she loved the land for many reasons. The awesome beauty of it, the food it can produce, the faithfulness of it always being there, the protectiveness of its presence. And it gave her confidence and self esteem to know she owned this gift from God. When your life is farming, it doesn't mean you are dense or unintelligent. It takes intergrity to make a sucessful farm as anything else. After sixteen years, she was doing the same thing, tending the land in the way she knew how. And she had suceeded with the help of much labor. They did the things she wanted and all was rewarded by it. To me, it makes her shine as a superior character. One I would have liked to meet. And dull, I do not see her as dull, not by a long shot. Her love for others seemed to flow out ofher. Especially for her youngest brother. Maybe not so much with the two oldest brothers but they were quite the stiff set, she loved Lou's daughter.
She might have shown her love in different ways than others. She wanted the very best for her loveones. That is, she wanted them to live life and love life. To use their minds to invent better ways to live life to the fullest. I can't say she was dull at all.
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kiakar
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Parts I and II -- Manifest Destiny and Native Americans



Peppermill wrote:
Isn't Rochelle (Foxycat) moderator here?


Everyman wrote:
That's a complex question which I have opinions about, but I think it would be a distraction from the discussion if we got into the issue here. If Melissa thinks it's okay, then okay. But it really doesn't have much to do with the book and could become a distraction.

Your ruling, Madam Moderator?

foxycat wrote:
We know that in the 19th Century, Americans believed in Manifest Destiny, their right to move westward and occupy all of the land between the oceans. We have great respect for their struggle and their triumph. At the same time, we also know that the dislocation and slaughter of Native Americans made this possible. The land was not really there for the taking; it had belonged to someone. Do you have any problem reconciling these two ideas in your mind? Do you think Cather did?








Yes, I do believe its Foxycat? She is the one who writes all the helpful links and things.
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