Characters versus Community in O Pioneers! by Willa Cather Essay

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Characters versus Community in O Pioneers! by Willa Cather In the novel O Pioneers! the author Willa Cather?s vision of Alexandra Bergson is consistent in character treatment with other authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne (Scarlet Letter), and Stephan Crane (Maggie: A Girl of the Streets). In each novel, all authors possess a central character that has an obvious tension between themselves and their community. Unlike the previous authors, Cather?s sympathies lie toward Alexandra. She makes Alexandra seem artificial because she has given a woman (also being her main character) strength and courage, along with power to overcome those who wish to pull her down.

In the novel O Pioneers!, Alexandra Bergson is the novel's central
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By defying public attitudes, Alexandra proves herself a true individualist.

Cather begins her support of Alexandra?s character when the father, John Bergson, surpasses his two older sons to give the land to Alexandra. Although he wants to follow in tradition, he knows that Alexandra is devoted to keeping the family land that he has strived so hard to build and keep within the family. Three years after John?s death Alexandra?s tensions with her family begin. The Divide suffers a drought that drives several families from their land. Lou and Oscar fail to remember their father?s dreams and instigate for Alexandra to sell the land and move on, but she doesn?t.

Her character is torn because not only is her family against her, her beloved friend Carl is moving also. She begins her thought process about staying on the Divide. She thinks of her father and her conversation with Ivar, and although she seems hesitant at first, she decides to remain on the Divide and cultivate a new system for the land.
Cather?s portrayal of Alexandra?s family is similar to how Nathaniel Hawthorne depicts the Puritans in The Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne?s central character, Hester Prynne, has committed the sin of adultery. In a Puritan society during that year she would likely have been stoned to death, but Hawthorne continues his character, only to let her endure emotional pain inflicted upon her by her community.

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