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O Pioneers! -- Dec 17 --Part V "Alexandra" and Book as a Whole

[ Edited ]
Discussion of Part V "Alexandra" and Book as a Whole.
If you must refer to something later in the book, please mark the post:smileyfrustrated:POILER.

Message Edited by foxycat on 11-25-2007 08:24 PM
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Re: O Pioneers! -- Dec 17 --Part V "Alexandra" and Book as a Whole

Well, I finished the book last night, and I have to say that I was a bit disappointed in it. But I'll wait to say why until this thread officially opens on Dec 17.
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Re: O Pioneers! -- Dec 17 --Part V "Alexandra" and Book as a Whole [POSSIBLE SPOILER]

It had a quiet ending, I thought, but an appropriate one. This is the quote that focused the novel for me in its entirety:

"Lou and Oscar can`t see those things," said Alexandra suddenly. "Suppose I do will my land to their children, what difference will that make? The land belongs to the future, Carl; that`s the way it seems to me. How many of the names on the county clerk`s plat will be there in fifty years? I might as well try to will the sunset over there to my brother`s children. We come and go, but the land is always here. And the people who love it and understand it are the people who own it--for a little while."

Here's what I took away: Alexandra desires to be a part of something larger than herself. In her case, that's the land, which is older and greater than human civilization (and perhaps symbolized by the golden agrarian deity). I'm always struck at how short a time people have been on the planet in comparison with the planet's history.

To connect to something greater is a human desire, acquired in so many ways, I think. Some people pursue this through public/humanitarian service. Some people pursue this in the private sector or in the clergy. Others read books (like this one perhaps), to connect to something larger.

I'm interested in what others took away, particularly if they think Alexandra is completely fulfilled by the novel's end, or if she is simply consoled.
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Re: O Pioneers! -- Dec 17 --Part V "Alexandra" and Book as a Whole --Land

That reminds me of the way Native Americans feel about land. You don't own it; you're just a steward for a while and then let someone else care for it. You try to give it back inthe same or better condition than you received it. That rules out most of the land being used in this country today.

I may not be back till late Tues evening. Anyone is welcome to move the conversation along.
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Re: O Pioneers! -- Dec 17 --Part V "Alexandra" and Book as a Whole -- Inheritance

[ Edited ]
The discussion about land and inheritance prompts me to ask what was the situation of American women at this time regarding inheritance? Victorian women in the UK could inherit from their fathers but if they married all their wealth was ceded to their husbands - land and money. Even if they divorced (which was very difficult), their wealth remained with their husbands as did custody of their children. So no matter how 'independent' they may have seemed, they were, in fact, dependent upon their fathers or their husbands, especially as they were not able to earn their own living in respectable trades and professions, even if they were lucky enough to have had an education which fitted them for such work.

I find it significant that quite a few wealthy Victorian women took to travelling and exploration, presumably because their inherited income enabled them to do this and because amongst 'the natives' their status as a white woman would be greater than that which they had in their own society and would therefore enable them to do what they wanted to do.

This is an interesting resume about Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the UK's first woman to qualify as a doctor (1865), who was inspired by Elizabeth Blackwell, another Englishwoman who became the first female doctor in America (1849):-

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/WandersonE.htm

And about Elizabeth Blackwell:-

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USACWblackwell.htm

We modern female 'professionals' owe such a lot to such women, who struggled so hard against the patriarchy of their times!

Message Edited by Choisya on 12-18-2007 07:03 AM
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Re: O Pioneers! -- Dec 17 --Part V "Alexandra" and Book as a Whole

Gradesaver lists these six as themes of O Pioneers:

1. Creating Civilization in the Wild
2. Work and Morality
3. Passionate Love vs. Reasonable Love
4. Imagination
5. Friendship
6. Temptation

I would certainly add one called "Land" or "Earth." Do others of you agree with these themes, do you think they are the ones Cather intended, or do you see others?

This query owes thanks to Choisya, who called our attention elsewhere to this site:
www.gradesaver.com/classicnotes/titles/opioneers/themes.html
"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! -- Dec 17 --Part V "Alexandra" and Book as a Whole--Themes

Welcome back, Lathan.

I invited Choisya to lurk here, since she's read the book. List looks good. I think Land can be combined with the first. I've been using Gradesaver and several other sources all along, as, unlike Everyman, I generally need help understanding books below the surface. But once I get help, I don't adhere exactly to what I read, but ponder it and form my own ideas.

Speaking of giving in to Temptation, what do you think of Frank's receiving Alex's forgiveness? Do you feel he was responsible for his act? Legally he was, but mentally? Would that be what we call today "temporary insanity"? How do you feel about Alex doing that?
.........

Peppermill, I have a special request of you as an excellent researcher. Can you find the answer to Choisya's question about the marriage laws in 1899? And I suppose they were different in each state. No hurry, as we'll be here a while, discussing all the themes.



Peppermill wrote:
Gradesaver lists these six as themes of O Pioneers:

1. Creating Civilization in the Wild
2. Work and Morality
3. Passionate Love vs. Reasonable Love
4. Imagination
5. Friendship
6. Temptation

I would certainly add one called "Land" or "Earth." Do others of you agree with these themes, do you think they are the ones Cather intended, or do you see others?

This query owes thanks to Choisya, who called our attention elsewhere to this site:
www.gradesaver.com/classicnotes/titles/opioneers/themes.html


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

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Re: O Pioneers! -- Dec 17 --Part V "Alexandra" and Book as a Whole--Themes

It seems to me that "Creating Civilization in the Wild" emphasizes the human side of the theme, yet all we read and the text itself, including the ending, makes the land itself a primal character. It is that primacy of the something more eternal than individual lives that I think is a theme which is not captured by "creating civilization in the wild."

Don't know if I have said that clearly, or am in garble mode again.
"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! -- Dec 17 --Part V "Alexandra" and Book as a Whole-- Money

[ Edited ]
I've been using Gradesaver and several other sources all along

Sorry, I hadn't seen that link or discussion of it posted - I must have missed it.

Peppermill, I have a special request of you as an excellent researcher. Can you find the answer to Choisya's question about the marriage laws in 1899? And I suppose they were different in each state.

Don't bother P - I can look them up for myself:smileyhappy:. I was more interested in generating discussion about women's rights at this time than in the laws themselves. For instance, was Alexandra's relationship with the men around her affected by the fact that she had inherited land and/or money? I think the possession of an income/property/land has a bearing on relationships and that the lack of this 'power' significantly affected Victorian women's relationships. Those of us today who have been in professional work from a young age may not realise what a difference being totally dependent on a man can make to one's life. When my professional daughter went back to university in her 40s and became dependent upon her husband for the first time, I know it affected their relationship. I earned more than either of my husbands and I know that affected our relationships. Similarly, a spinster living with and totally dependent upon her father must have quite a different relationship with him to one who is able to earn her own living.

Many Victorian women (in the UK at least) were totally dependent upon their husbands and even if they had been used to wealth, they were stripped of it upon marriage. If they remained spinsters and kept their wealth there was a limit to what they could do as single women in a society which was dominated by men and where women were thought of as inferior and incapable of making sensible decisions etc. (We see instances of this in Middlemarch when Dorothea, a wealthy spinster and then a wealthy widow, is constantly told that she shouldn't trouble her brain about serious matters.)

So how do folks think Alexandra was affected by the possession of land/money?






foxycat wrote:
Welcome back, Lathan.

I invited Choisya to lurk here, since she's read the book. List looks good. I think Land can be combined with the first. I've been using Gradesaver and several other sources all along, as, unlike Everyman, I generally need help understanding books below the surface. But once I get help, I don't adhere exactly to what I read, but ponder it and form my own ideas.

Speaking of giving in to Temptation, what do you think of Frank's receiving Alex's forgiveness? Do you feel he was responsible for his act? Legally he was, but mentally? Would that be what we call today "temporary insanity"? How do you feel about Alex doing that?
.........

Peppermill, I have a special request of you as an excellent researcher. Can you find the answer to Choisya's question about the marriage laws in 1899? And I suppose they were different in each state. No hurry, as we'll be here a while, discussing all the themes.



Peppermill wrote:
Gradesaver lists these six as themes of O Pioneers:

1. Creating Civilization in the Wild
2. Work and Morality
3. Passionate Love vs. Reasonable Love
4. Imagination
5. Friendship
6. Temptation

I would certainly add one called "Land" or "Earth." Do others of you agree with these themes, do you think they are the ones Cather intended, or do you see others?

This query owes thanks to Choisya, who called our attention elsewhere to this site:
www.gradesaver.com/classicnotes/titles/opioneers/themes.html






Message Edited by Choisya on 12-19-2007 02:04 PM
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Re: O Pioneers! -- Dec 17 --Part V "Alexandra" and Book as a Whole-- Money

I didn't provide links. I don't necessarily quote from Gradesaver or any other source in my statements. It's information that I've absorbed and am giving to others.

Of course Victorian women were in the same situation of dependence here. And we saw that in "The House of Mirth" too. I was just wondering if any laws had been changed in Nebraska by 1899. Sounds like Dorothea's problem was similar to Alex's with her brothers. They think she doesn't know what she's doing, first with the farm, then with her wanting to marry Carl in Part III. Alex is very sure of her decisions, and knows exactly what she's doing. But for many years, she neglected her own need for love, and lost Carl in the process, until the end.


Choisya wrote:
I've been using Gradesaver and several other sources all along

Sorry, I hadn't seen that link or discussion of it posted - I must have missed it.

...Many Victorian women (in the UK at least) were totally dependent upon their husbands and even if they had been used to wealth, they were stripped of it upon marriage. If they remained spinsters and kept their wealth there was a limit to what they could do as single women in a society which was dominated by men and where women were thought of as inferior and incapable of making sensible decisions etc. (We see instances of this in Middlemarch when Dorothea, a wealthy spinster and then a wealthy widow, is constantly told that she shouldn't trouble her brain about serious matters.)

So how do folks think Alexandra was affected by the possession of land/money?...

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Re: O Pioneers! -- Dec 17 --Part V "Alexandra" and Book as a Whole--Themes

Thanks, Foxycat. On the question of Frank's legal responsibility, I'd say (today under U.S. law) it legally falls under voluntary manslaughter. In this situation, the defendant has acted in the heat of passion and has no opportunity to cool off. Whether Frank had adequate provocation is legally up to a jury, but Cather tells us in The White Mulberry Tree, VII that Frank's "blood was quicker than his brain. He began to act as a man who falls into the fire begins to act." There's a nice parallel with Emil here, who acts rashly with Marie in the first place.

I cannot locate Frank's criminal charge in the novel, but his sentence was ten years.



foxycat wrote:
Welcome back, Lathan.

I invited Choisya to lurk here, since she's read the book. List looks good. I think Land can be combined with the first. I've been using Gradesaver and several other sources all along, as, unlike Everyman, I generally need help understanding books below the surface. But once I get help, I don't adhere exactly to what I read, but ponder it and form my own ideas.

Speaking of giving in to Temptation, what do you think of Frank's receiving Alex's forgiveness? Do you feel he was responsible for his act? Legally he was, but mentally? Would that be what we call today "temporary insanity"? How do you feel about Alex doing that?
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Re: O Pioneers! -- Frank, Marie, Emil -- A Lethal Triangle

Thx, Lathan. Would you say that even earlier, Marie and Frank acted rashly?

Lathan wrote: Thanks, Foxycat. On the question of Frank's legal responsibility, I'd say (today under U.S. law) it legally falls under voluntary manslaughter. In this situation, the defendant has acted in the heat of passion and has no opportunity to cool off. Whether Frank had adequate provocation is legally up to a jury, but Cather tells us in The White Mulberry Tree, VII that Frank's "blood was quicker than his brain. He began to act as a man who falls into the fire begins to act." There's a nice parallel with Emil here, who acts rashly with Marie in the first place.

I cannot locate Frank's criminal charge in the novel, but his sentence was ten years.

foxycat wrote: Welcome back, Lathan.

I invited Choisya to lurk here, since she's read the book. List looks good. I think Land can be combined with the first. I've been using Gradesaver and several other sources all along, as, unlike Everyman, I generally need help understanding books below the surface. But once I get help, I don't adhere exactly to what I read, but ponder it and form my own ideas.

Speaking of giving in to Temptation, what do you think of Frank's receiving Alex's forgiveness? Do you feel he was responsible for his act? Legally he was, but mentally? Would that be what we call today "temporary insanity"? How do you feel about Alex doing that?


"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! -- Frank, Marie, Emil -- A Lethal Triangle

I should think so, though it's difficult to tell with that chronological leap from Part I to Part II. One assumes that those were the days when Frank had the gold cane referenced later in the novel.

Interestingly enough, Alexandra identifies more with Frank than Marie. The quote below is from the close of Part IV:

"[Alexandra] and Frank, she told herself, were left out of that group of friends who had been overwhelmed by disaster. She must certainly see Frank Shabata. Even in the courtroom her heart had grieved for him. He was in a strange country, he had no kinsmen or friends, and in a moment he had ruined his life. Being what he was, she felt, Frank could not have acted otherwise. She could understand his behavior more easily than she could understand Marie's. Yes, she must go to Lincoln to see Frank Shabata."



Peppermill wrote:
Thx, Lathan. Would you say that even earlier, Marie and Frank acted rashly?

Lathan wrote: Thanks, Foxycat. On the question of Frank's legal responsibility, I'd say (today under U.S. law) it legally falls under voluntary manslaughter. In this situation, the defendant has acted in the heat of passion and has no opportunity to cool off. Whether Frank had adequate provocation is legally up to a jury, but Cather tells us in The White Mulberry Tree, VII that Frank's "blood was quicker than his brain. He began to act as a man who falls into the fire begins to act." There's a nice parallel with Emil here, who acts rashly with Marie in the first place.

I cannot locate Frank's criminal charge in the novel, but his sentence was ten years.

foxycat wrote: Welcome back, Lathan.

I invited Choisya to lurk here, since she's read the book. List looks good. I think Land can be combined with the first. I've been using Gradesaver and several other sources all along, as, unlike Everyman, I generally need help understanding books below the surface. But once I get help, I don't adhere exactly to what I read, but ponder it and form my own ideas.

Speaking of giving in to Temptation, what do you think of Frank's receiving Alex's forgiveness? Do you feel he was responsible for his act? Legally he was, but mentally? Would that be what we call today "temporary insanity"? How do you feel about Alex doing that?




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Re: O Pioneers! -- Frank, Marie, Emil -- A Lethal Triangle

[ Edited ]
Lathan -- My reasoning is from Marie's decision to leave school, where her father sent her, in order to marry Frank. Her father seemed to try to cool or at least slow down the relationship. I found it fascinating that her father apparently came with them to Nebraska?

I appreciate you quotation and will have to mull that one a bit.

You have been commenting on legal issues here and for Middlemarch. Do you have any thoughts on where to pursue Rochelle's questions about women's property rights and the impact of marriage in the US in that period? I am quite certain they varied from state to state, and I have found it difficult to find information on the web about Nebraska. (However, some of the stipulations were probably embedded in the Homestead Acts.) I do know that US leadership in property rights has a long history and undergirds our economic system -- Alan Greenspan makes that case strongly in his recent book.

Lathan wrote:
I should think so, though it's difficult to tell with that chronological leap from Part I to Part II. One assumes that those were the days when Frank had the gold cane referenced later in the novel.

Interestingly enough, Alexandra identifies more with Frank than Marie. The quote below is from the close of Part IV:

"[Alexandra] and Frank, she told herself, were left out of that group of friends who had been overwhelmed by disaster. She must certainly see Frank Shabata. Even in the courtroom her heart had grieved for him. He was in a strange country, he had no kinsmen or friends, and in a moment he had ruined his life. Being what he was, she felt, Frank could not have acted otherwise. She could understand his behavior more easily than she could understand Marie's. Yes, she must go to Lincoln to see Frank Shabata."

Peppermill wrote:
Thx, Lathan. Would you say that even earlier, Marie and Frank acted rashly?

Lathan wrote: Thanks, Foxycat. On the question of Frank's legal responsibility, I'd say (today under U.S. law) it legally falls under voluntary manslaughter. In this situation, the defendant has acted in the heat of passion and has no opportunity to cool off. Whether Frank had adequate provocation is legally up to a jury, but Cather tells us in The White Mulberry Tree, VII that Frank's "blood was quicker than his brain. He began to act as a man who falls into the fire begins to act." There's a nice parallel with Emil here, who acts rashly with Marie in the first place.

I cannot locate Frank's criminal charge in the novel, but his sentence was ten years.




Message Edited by Peppermill on 12-20-2007 12:02 AM
"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! -- Frank, Marie, Emil -- A Lethal Triangle

That's a fascinating property/marital law question. I'm afraid I don't know offhand, but hope to look into it when possible.



Peppermill wrote:
Lathan -- My reasoning is from Marie's decision to leave school, where her father sent her, in order to marry Frank. Her father seemed to try to cool or at least slow down the relationship. I found it fascinating that her father apparently came with them to Nebraska?

I appreciate you quotation and will have to mull that one a bit.

You have been commenting on legal issues here and for Middlemarch. Do you have any thoughts on where to pursue Rochelle's questions about women's property rights and the impact of marriage in the US in that period? I am quite certain they varied from state to state, and I have found it difficult to find information on the web about Nebraska. (However, some of the stipulations were probably embedded in the Homestead Acts.) I do know that US leadership in property rights has a long history and undergirds our economic system -- Alan Greenspan makes that case strongly in his recent book.

Lathan wrote:
I should think so, though it's difficult to tell with that chronological leap from Part I to Part II. One assumes that those were the days when Frank had the gold cane referenced later in the novel.

Interestingly enough, Alexandra identifies more with Frank than Marie. The quote below is from the close of Part IV:

"[Alexandra] and Frank, she told herself, were left out of that group of friends who had been overwhelmed by disaster. She must certainly see Frank Shabata. Even in the courtroom her heart had grieved for him. He was in a strange country, he had no kinsmen or friends, and in a moment he had ruined his life. Being what he was, she felt, Frank could not have acted otherwise. She could understand his behavior more easily than she could understand Marie's. Yes, she must go to Lincoln to see Frank Shabata."

Peppermill wrote:
Thx, Lathan. Would you say that even earlier, Marie and Frank acted rashly?

Lathan wrote: Thanks, Foxycat. On the question of Frank's legal responsibility, I'd say (today under U.S. law) it legally falls under voluntary manslaughter. In this situation, the defendant has acted in the heat of passion and has no opportunity to cool off. Whether Frank had adequate provocation is legally up to a jury, but Cather tells us in The White Mulberry Tree, VII that Frank's "blood was quicker than his brain. He began to act as a man who falls into the fire begins to act." There's a nice parallel with Emil here, who acts rashly with Marie in the first place.

I cannot locate Frank's criminal charge in the novel, but his sentence was ten years.




Message Edited by Peppermill on 12-20-2007 12:02 AM

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Re: O Pioneers! -- A turning point

How do you think the murder and trial were a turning point in Alex's life?
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Re: O Pioneers! -- Marriage Laws

I've tried Googling the Nebraska marriage laws of the 1890's but it's not an easy thing to find. We probably need to look at the Library of Congress site, and I think it would be a long search, perhaps not worth the trouble.

In this case, I don't think Alex would care if her property went to her husband. They have great respect for each other, Carl is a kind and gentle man, and I see their marriage as a happy one of two equals. Meanwhile her brothers will have conniptions upon finding that she's getting married. Their kids are out of the picture. And Pepper, this is what I meant on the previous thread about her brothers not caring about her happiness. They'd like to see her remain unmarried for that reason.
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. --Oscar Wilde

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Re: O Pioneers! -- Marriage Laws

To follow up on marriage laws:

Doing some cursory research into this (and I’m starting well before the time of the novel to show the comparison/contrast for those of us also reading Middlemarch), the major legal landmark was the New York's Married Women’s Property Act (1848), which other states used as a model.

Speaking generally, the Civil War really seemed to change matrimonial property laws, moving away from a focus on court equity procedures to attempts to make husband and wife property rights more equal (ex. a wife could write a will, a widow inheriting land was protected from her husband’s creditors, etc.).

The interesting part is the Homestead Act (1862): any person age 21 and a family head could claim land, male or female (see Section 2).

http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/resources/archives/five/homestd.htm

But given that other government regulations defined the household head as the husband, women were forced to delay marriage for five years to title land in their names. Men didn’t have to. Union war widows could deduct their husband’s time of service from the five years.

By Cather’s time, some state legislatures enacted laws that recognized women’s separate and inherited estates as part of family income. As a result, creditors received the right to claim women’s property to pay family debts.

I’ll venture here that assuming Alexandra had uncontested title, she could have written a will to bequeath her property. But here's an interesting wrinkle: if she had dropped dead at the end of the novel before marrying Carl and lacked a will, given that she was childless and under intestate succession, her heirs would have been her brothers. If she had completed her marriage to Carl and died without a will, Carl would have received the entire estate (assuming the couple was childless).
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Re: O Pioneers! -- Marriage Laws

Lathan -- THANK YOU! What you report fits what I remember (at the recognition level of remembering, as much as at the recall level!), but I was queasy about trying to verify that.

Lathan wrote:
To follow up on marriage laws:

Doing some cursory research into this (and I’m starting well before the time of the novel to show the comparison/contrast for those of us also reading Middlemarch), the major legal landmark was the New York's Married Women’s Property Act (1848), which other states used as a model.

Speaking generally, the Civil War really seemed to change matrimonial property laws, moving away from a focus on court equity procedures to attempts to make husband and wife property rights more equal (ex. a wife could write a will, a widow inheriting land was protected from her husband’s creditors, etc.).

The interesting part is the Homestead Act (1862): any person age 21 and a family head could claim land, male or female (see Section 2).

http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/resources/archives/five/homestd.htm

But given that other government regulations defined the household head as the husband, women were forced to delay marriage for five years to title land in their names. Men didn’t have to. Union war widows could deduct their husband’s time of service from the five years.

By Cather’s time, some state legislatures enacted laws that recognized women’s separate and inherited estates as part of family income. As a result, creditors received the right to claim women’s property to pay family debts.

I’ll venture here that assuming Alexandra had uncontested title, she could have written a will to bequeath her property. But here's an interesting wrinkle: if she had dropped dead at the end of the novel before marrying Carl and lacked a will, given that she was childless and under intestate succession, her heirs would have been her brothers. If she had completed her marriage to Carl and died without a will, Carl would have received the entire estate (assuming the couple was childless).
"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! -- Marriage Laws

Great, Lathan. So you're saying, when they marry, the land is still hers, not owned or jointly owned by her husband? (Unless she chooses joint ownership.) Although I don't think she cares, that would make a difference as to who can write a will.
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. --Oscar Wilde

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