O Pioneers

1555 Words7 Pages
History 2112

November 19, 2009

Is Alexandra still considered a feminist, although Cather

positioned her in a male role throughout the novel O Pioneers?

Although Alexandra was depicted as a “tall, strong girl,” (p.10) which is typically viewed as characteristics of a male, she was indeed a feminist in Willa Cather’s novel O Pioneers! In the introduction of the novel, an argument arises due to the differences of O Pioneers! in contrast to some of Cather’s other pieces as well as several other novels of that time period. Marilee Lindemann references that “law and custom in most (if not all) Western countries severely limited what are girl might ‘do’, in life as well as in literature (…) thus, in comparison to their male
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At this point, Alexandra had spent numerous days and nights alone, those days when she only had her little brother, Emil, to accompany her; however, he eventually went off to school and to pursue his own career. As a result, Alexandra was left to confide in her neighbor Marie who didn’t quite understand her, herself, and her dreams.

Throughout Alexandra’s childhood, she often dreamed of pleasures from “a man, certainly, who carried her, but he was like no man she knew…” (p.112) and these fancies continued as she grew older. She often slept in on Sunday mornings and during her lengthy sleep hours she “accidentally” fancied about a man whom she knew nothing about. These dreams appeared during times when she found herself the most fatigued from the unbearable work on the divide; “we grow hard and heavy here” (p.69). Surprisingly, Alexandra became disappointed with herself after the epiphany elapsed. “She would rise hastily, angry with herself, and go down to the bath-house...” (p.112) to cleanse her body. As incorporated in the novel, these feelings expressed more characteristics of Alexandra’s feminism as she daydreamed about a man in her life. However, little did she know that her dreams would soon become a reality.

During times when the Divide experienced famine, most of its residents sold their property and migrated to other, more profitable lands. Among those who
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