Reading for Me

The Books I Have Read…..Just for Me

#41: O Pioneers! (Willa Cather)

on October 2, 2013

As a student, I remember enjoying reading My Antonia by Cather. I’ve always intended to read more of her works, but have never gotten around to it. This week, I stumbled across O Pioneers! on the library bookshelf and decided the time had come to revisit Cather.

O Pioneers! is the story of a farming family in Nebraska. After her father’s death, Alexandra finds herself with the responsibility of leading the family business, much to the chagrin of her older brothers. Despite difficulty and tragedy, Alexandra chooses to remain faithful to the land she inherited in hopes that her younger brother might have more choices in the future. Although the plot itself is rather simple, the novel is considered a masterpiece.

One of the major characters of O Pioneers! is the land itself. The land can be at times beautiful before suddenly taking on a vengeful, depressing air. Man’s inability to control the land (and by extension, man’s future) is a recurring theme of the novel. Personally, I loved how Cather finally stated this idea in the voice of Alexandra at the novel’s conclusion:  “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.” (Cather, O Pioneers!, 158)

Was this one of my favorite reads of the year? Probably not. Am I glad that I read it? Definitely. If you’re in the mood for beautiful word play from one of America’s leading female authors, take a chance and check out O Pioneers!


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