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

Oops. You're right. Me bad. Very, very bad.

Sorry, Foxy!

What think you??


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?





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

Pepper--

You didn't understand my question, and you're giving me psychobabble :smileyvery-happy:. :smileyvery-happy: Everyman mentioned early in the discussion that the West was an unusual situation, because, unlike in Europe, there was undeveloped land for the taking. How do we reconcile rooting for the pioneers with the knowledge that the land had been forcibly taken from the Native Americans? And do you think Cather had any ambiguity about how the land had been obtained? Does she reveal it in any of her other works?

Everyman--I'm not Melissa :smileyvery-happy:, nor am I an official moderator, just a member. You can stray off-topic if you wish. I allowed some time s for the first 2 parts because members are straggling in from other boards.




Peppermill wrote:

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.


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

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


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?


Fascinating questions. One could add a third dimension, that the swell of immigration enabled such frontier expansion. The immigrants, faced with such hardships, drew from tradition and routine. One common theme in the novel is that many new pioneers fear to try the untested and the alien, from language to farm techniques. They fall back into insularity and devotion to tradition, which is very human.
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Parts I and II -- Land

I missed most of the fun tonight because I've been trying to network my computers wirelessly.
ALL DAY and INTO THE NIGHT! More tomorrow.

I know Cather doesn't mention Native Americans in this book. But let me hear from you on the issue. How do we manage to be two-sided on this?
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. --Oscar Wilde

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Re: O Pioneers!-- Parts I and II -- Immigrant groups

[ Edited ]
Thanks, Lathan, and welcome to the group. Are you going to read along with us?

And it was Alex's willingness to explore what other people were doing, to try something different, that made her a success. You recall she went down with Emil to the river communities in Part I and explored the farms for a week.

This was the period of tremendous immigration, 12 million from 1870-1900. Many immigrants did tend to cluster together among their own people. Do you think this town (what name did CW give it?)is a bit unusual? There are Swedes, Germans, French mingling together, and Marie's maiden name sound Polish.

Here's an except at the Library of Congress called "Minnesota as it is in 1870." It's a promotional pamphlet to draw new residents. Note the prices!

http://memory.loc.gov/learn/features/timeline/riseind/immgnts/minn.html

and farm implements of 1880-1920.

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/award97/ndfahtml/ngp_farm.html



Lathan wrote:

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?


Fascinating questions. One could add a third dimension, that the swell of immigration enabled such frontier expansion. The immigrants, faced with such hardships, drew from tradition and routine. One common theme in the novel is that many new pioneers fear to try the untested and the alien, from language to farm techniques. They fall back into insularity and devotion to tradition, which is very human.



Message Edited by foxycat on 12-05-2007 12:00 AM
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. --Oscar Wilde

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Re: O Pioneers!-- Parts I and II -- The Library of Congress / Nebraska

[ Edited ]
This site contains the catalogue of the entire Library of Congress, and all or a great portion of the photos and documents are online. I noted a few documents in my last post. The site's immensity makes it difficult to navigate, but if anyone has any tidbits on the Nebraska prairies, please chip in. The camera was invented around 1840, so you may be surprised at how many things were captured in photos.

You could get permanently lost surfing this site and never be heard from again. Enjoy.:smileyvery-happy:

www.loc.gov

Message Edited by foxycat on 12-05-2007 12:15 AM
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. --Oscar Wilde

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


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.

Well, it hadn't really belonged to anybody in the sense that we understand belonging; the Native Americans lived on the land, but didn't have concept of ownership of it.

But beyond that, land has been taken from people almost since the time man because man. And in reality before that; some birds steal other birds nests, bears take over other bears' caves. It's the way of nature; the stronger replaces the weaker. If you believe in the law of nature, that's what you have to accept.

How many times has Rome been conquered and taken over by other civilizations? Should the present-day Romans feel guilty because the land was taken away from its first settlers?
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Parts I and II -- Manifest Destiny and Native Americans

Everyman--
I did a little research on this. It wasn't that long since the native Americans had been driven out. The Pawnee were defeated in 1859, and the Sioux and other Native American tribes by 1880. This book begins in 1883. Not the stretch you mention regarding the Romans.

Secondly you can't compare the genocide of human beings to the natural laws among animals.

As usual, like a lawyer, you're nitpicking on the precise meaning of words. OK, the natives didn't "own" the land, they lived on it

And I didn't use the word "guilt," I said "ambiguity."

If you feel this topic is too loaded, you may excuse yourself.



Everyman wrote:

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.

Well, it hadn't really belonged to anybody in the sense that we understand belonging; the Native Americans lived on the land, but didn't have concept of ownership of it.

But beyond that, land has been taken from people almost since the time man because man. And in reality before that; some birds steal other birds nests, bears take over other bears' caves. It's the way of nature; the stronger replaces the weaker. If you believe in the law of nature, that's what you have to accept.

How many times has Rome been conquered and taken over by other civilizations? Should the present-day Romans feel guilty because the land was taken away from its first settlers?


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

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

I don't feel that the topic is too loaded. I agree that the time frame is different, but not the principle. We who have grown up in 20th century America have little if any experience with the instability of land ownership, which still goes on in many parts of the world (think Sudan for must one). The two World Wars in the 20th Century redrew the map of Europe. the sort of stability we have enjoyed during our lifetimes is an aberration in human history, and it behooves us to keep this in mind. (Nature has her own role in this, also; almost every day she creates and destroys land through coastal erosion or build-up, volcanic activity, earthquakes, etc.)

BTW, certainly I can compare the activities of humans with those of animals. We are, after all, animals ourselves, relative newcomers to the animal kingdom. And despite our arrogance, we may not be the most intelligent animals.

foxycat wrote:
Everyman--
I did a little research on this. It wasn't that long since the native Americans had been driven out. The Pawnee were defeated in 1859, and the Sioux and other Native American tribes by 1880. This book begins in 1883. Not the stretch you mention regarding the Romans.

Secondly you can't compare the genocide of human beings to the natural laws among animals.

As usual, like a lawyer, you're nitpicking on the precise meaning of words. OK, the natives didn't "own" the land, they lived on it

And I didn't use the word "guilt," I said "ambiguity."

If you feel this topic is too loaded, you may excuse yourself.



Everyman wrote:

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.

Well, it hadn't really belonged to anybody in the sense that we understand belonging; the Native Americans lived on the land, but didn't have concept of ownership of it.

But beyond that, land has been taken from people almost since the time man because man. And in reality before that; some birds steal other birds nests, bears take over other bears' caves. It's the way of nature; the stronger replaces the weaker. If you believe in the law of nature, that's what you have to accept.

How many times has Rome been conquered and taken over by other civilizations? Should the present-day Romans feel guilty because the land was taken away from its first settlers?





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

I view her as being ostracized because she was so different from the other women - you see how she doesn't get along with her sisters-in-law because of these differences - and having studied pioneer life and particular communities among pioneer women (this was my thesis), such differences would've set her apart from her community. She may garner respect for what she's accomplished, her business sense, and her wealth, but the connections between women were foreign to her.

Also, while Alex had hired help by the time part II picks up, it's almost certain she would've been in the fields herself during those missing 16 years. I knew girls growing up who were baling hay and mucking stalls alongside their brothers because it needed done - these same girls would then turned around and help get dinner on the table, or sew their quilt for 4-H. In this world, gender exists, but when help is needed, everyone pitches in.

To take a popular imagery - remember Laura helping Pa cut the tall grasses? That was normal. Pa had no one else to help, Laura was able. Mary would've been out their too, had she not been blind.



Peppermill wrote:
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.




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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.


Somehow I think there is an explanation - perhaps later?
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Dec 1 -- Parts I and II --The land as hero

I agree with your reading of Alex's love. I think by the time they'd survived the land, she'd been through so many fights with her brothers that a close relationship with them would've been impossible, but I can see it in the way she demanded the family do what would bring them success, gave them their own pieces of land when they really didn't have to split it, and kept up in interest in their children and their successes.

Because she'd never had the disagreements with Emil, the love there is more clear.

I also see and sincere interest in her variety of neighbors from the Bohemians to the old widow. One cannot accuse a woman who feels so strongly about others of being a robot.


KIAKAR WROTE:

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.

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

I understand what you're asking, but I don't think it factors in here. Cather died long before any interest in American Indians was even developing, and I don't see any interest in their plight in her novels. One reason for this may be that she lived in a developed town where she wouldn't have run into any American Indians, who, by the time she got there, were being very much confined on reservations.

Personally (and especially for those of you who live across the pond) I want to remind you that it is impossible to live in this part of America without remembering the American Indians. Full blooded American Indians are in my store at least once week - they run the casino just up the road. Driving through the Dakotas, you will find parts that are exclusively American Indian. I fully appreciate that Columbus Day celebrates the beginning of that genocide. BUT I just don't feel these questions are addressed or considered in Cather's works.



foxycat wrote:
Pepper--

You didn't understand my question, and you're giving me psychobabble :smileyvery-happy:. :smileyvery-happy: Everyman mentioned early in the discussion that the West was an unusual situation, because, unlike in Europe, there was undeveloped land for the taking. How do we reconcile rooting for the pioneers with the knowledge that the land had been forcibly taken from the Native Americans? And do you think Cather had any ambiguity about how the land had been obtained? Does she reveal it in any of her other works?

Everyman--I'm not Melissa :smileyvery-happy:, nor am I an official moderator, just a member. You can stray off-topic if you wish. I allowed some time s for the first 2 parts because members are straggling in from other boards.




~ Happiness is a good book, a sleeping cat, and a glass of wine. ~
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Parts I and II -- Immigrant groups

Marie was Bohemian. Shabata, Smirka, Tovesky - these are Bohemian names. Linstrom, Bergstrom - these are Swede.

My greats-grandparents were also Bohemians in western/central Nebraska in the mid-late 1800s. (I am familially connected to Cather through 1 marriage; my sister is the one who would know who married whom in what line.) What attracted them to the area is how much it resembled the lands they used to farm in Bohemia. Having never been to Bohemia, I don't know how true that is.

The mixture in this town is not unusual - you can say towns were largely German or Swede or whatever - but you note they do still stay with like. The Catholics have their fair and others don't seem to go. Catholics would've been Bohemian and French. Swede, Norweigan, Germans were Lutheran.

I grew up in Iowa, my mother grew up in Nebraska, I currently live in Minnesota. All of this is very much 'life as it is' to me. One of my best friends is full-Norweigan, her grandmother still speaks Norweigan and is getting ready to do all the traditional holiday baking. But she can certainly be friends with me, the mutt of all mutts. :smileywink:
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Parts I and II -- Manifest Destiny and Native Americans

Not sure how this fits into your view of ownership, but in my part of the world, family farms are continuously being threatened with megafarms and bankruptcy. Land families have been farming for 4 or 5 generations - starting out just like the Bergstroms did - is being lost and those families forced to find another way to make their livings. Heritage is disappearing.
~ Happiness is a good book, a sleeping cat, and a glass of wine. ~
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Re: O Pioneers!-- Parts I and II -- Manifest Destiny and Native Americans

Lots of good comments, AJ. Thanks.

One of the things I notice is the stoicism of Cather's characters, and that, too, fits very well with what I know about any number of people from that part of the country. Emotions were there, but often not considered as important as what was done -- which oftentimes involved moving through considerable hardship (weather, crop failures, land prices, illness, disasters), sustaining uncomfortable relationships (e.g., Alex and her brothers), helping one another (e.g., harvesting), and accepting human frailties in accordance with some religious customs or beliefs or influences. Unfortunately, sometimes forgiveness might be more readily extended to relative strangers than to close family members.
"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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Re: O Pioneers!-- Parts I and II -- Immigrant groups

Thank you for the links, Foxycat. I have been reading along and enjoying others' perspectives of the novel and the author.

I am impressed with Cather's insights into human nature with regard to the immigrant experience. As Peppermill states above, they show a great stoicism. I think there was a similar stoicism for those immigrants who flooded the large coastal cities at this time. Lacking the large expanses of land that Cather's protagonists have, many cordoned off their own ethnic enclaves in overcrowded cities. For many, I would think that to own land like Alexandra would be a great victory. I'm reminded of Will Rogers' line that land is the only thing they aren't making more of.

One part of the novel that really struck me was the contrast between Alexandra and Carl. Alexandra seems attached to her bountiful land, the land she loves, whereas Carl is more mobile and has freedom. Yet there are drawbacks with both. We've seen the problems Alexandra has to deal with on her farm. For Carl's part, towards the close of Part II, Chapter IV, Carl laments that his freedom really seems a lack of connection to anything.

So I think I'm saying that I see love (attachment) versus freedom as a theme here.



foxycat wrote:
Thanks, Lathan, and welcome to the group. Are you going to read along with us?

And it was Alex's willingness to explore what other people were doing, to try something different, that made her a success. You recall she went down with Emil to the river communities in Part I and explored the farms for a week.

This was the period of tremendous immigration, 12 million from 1870-1900. Many immigrants did tend to cluster together among their own people. Do you think this town (what name did CW give it?)is a bit unusual? There are Swedes, Germans, French mingling together, and Marie's maiden name sound Polish.

Here's an except at the Library of Congress called "Minnesota as it is in 1870." It's a promotional pamphlet to draw new residents. Note the prices!

http://memory.loc.gov/learn/features/timeline/riseind/immgnts/minn.html

and farm implements of 1880-1920.

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/award97/ndfahtml/ngp_farm.html



Lathan wrote:

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?


Fascinating questions. One could add a third dimension, that the swell of immigration enabled such frontier expansion. The immigrants, faced with such hardships, drew from tradition and routine. One common theme in the novel is that many new pioneers fear to try the untested and the alien, from language to farm techniques. They fall back into insularity and devotion to tradition, which is very human.



Message Edited by foxycat on 12-05-2007 12:00 AM


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Re: O Pioneers!-- Parts I and II -- Immigrant groups

[ Edited ]
So much to address! I don't usually get on till all of you are in bed...

I missed that Marie was Bohemian. Thanks, AJ. That became part of Czechoslovakia after WWI, didn't it?

Pepper--
Stoicism was the word I was searching for. That's why Alex appears unemotional at times. "Things are the way they are, and we adjust." She didn't make a big scene as we might do when Carl leaves at the end of Part II.

Lathan--
Re: the immigrant experience. Most Jews would not become farmers because in some European countries they had not been allowed to own land. They became merchants and businessmen. When they emigrated, they clustered mostly in the large cities, especially NYC. My grandfather came over in 1911 from Kiev, Ukraine during that period of enormous immigration. He lived in the East Bronx, NYC, among thousands of other Jews, and I suspect the Russian Jews might have even separated themselves from Polish Jews and German Jews and Hungarian Jews. He earned enough money to send for my grandmother and the two girls in 1913.

Ninety years later I was reading "Nicholas and Alexandra" by Robert Massie, a history of the last Czar of Russia. In 1913 there was a pogrom in Kiev, and I went CLICK! That could be why Grandma came in 1913. I felt so connected to history! I know how you feel AJ, about this book.

Message Edited by foxycat on 12-05-2007 09:44 PM
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. --Oscar Wilde

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Re: O Pioneers!-- Parts I and II -- Carl vs. Alex

Carl never acquired that feeling about land when he was younger because his father's farm was not successful. He became little cog in the machine of the vast city, anonymous. He had no family, no sense of community in NY, is not attached to anything. And his craft was already becoming obsolete before he started. The Industrial Revolution brought about rapid change.
It's not just love that Carl missed, but connectivity. That's why he says he's a failure compared to Alex. But the grass is always greener... Alex feels burdened by all her connections, but she doesn't realize she never would have been happy in a large city either.



Lathan wrote:
...One part of the novel that really struck me was the contrast between Alexandra and Carl. Alexandra seems attached to her bountiful land, the land she loves, whereas Carl is more mobile and has freedom. Yet there are drawbacks with both. We've seen the problems Alexandra has to deal with on her farm. For Carl's part, towards the close of Part II, Chapter IV, Carl laments that his freedom really seems a lack of connection to anything.

So I think I'm saying that I see love (attachment) versus freedom as a theme here.


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

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



AJ981979 wrote:
Not sure how this fits into your view of ownership, but in my part of the world, family farms are continuously being threatened with megafarms and bankruptcy. Land families have been farming for 4 or 5 generations - starting out just like the Bergstroms did - is being lost and those families forced to find another way to make their livings. Heritage is disappearing.





Farms are disappearing all over the United States. Co-ops own them and that is why food is so high. And also food is shipped from other countries. My father was a farmer, when he died in 1951, farming was simple and most of the time, you just made ends meet. My father really would be disappointed to see where farming has gone now.
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