O Pioneers Essay

Submitted By emurph261
Words: 1005
Pages: 5

“O, Pioneers”, by Willa Cather, is a story about an immigrant, family’s struggle of living in a rural area while trying to make ends meet. The story mainly focuses on the daughter of the family, Alexandra. Throughout the novel, readers get a glimpse into the hardships and victories of Alexandra and her family and also the social and cultural life of rural areas. During the time when this novel was written, 1913, workers and immigrants in rural areas had it much different than today. Workers of that day roughly had any type of technology or machinery to help them with crops or the land. They were also most likely required to work from sun up to sun down with very little breaks in between. Not to say that these type of workers have it easy today, but modern America is technologically advanced and has very adequate machinery. Also, it is very likely that employees may be hired to do the work for the land owners instead of themselves. During Cather’s time, this was a possibility, but only if a person was wealthy. No matter what age of time, it takes a very hard-working, determined person to be able to work in these types of conditions. Social life during this time was mainly centered on religion and social status. Religion was a huge part of society for people during this time and it wasn’t questioned, it was just what had always been done. Social status was also a very prominent thing. There was a fine line between each class of society and people knew to stay in their own group. Today, religion isn’t the main focus of America anymore. Faith and religion have been questioned and distorted by worldly views as time has gone on. As for social class, that is still something commonly looked at today, it is just not as severe and harsh as it was back then. Another similarity would be that both time periods have tremendous examples of women stepping up and becoming leaders. Since Alexandra was the oldest child when her father died, she was left in charge over the land and her brothers, Lou and Oscar. It is common today to see women being the leaders of homes and major job corporations. Prior to reading this book, I did not have very much knowledge of the immigrants and the Great Plains. However, I was able to make some connections with things in the book and things from class. During the 1880’s and 1890’s farmers were struggling with trying to make ends meet due to debt. Farmers had faced many difficulties with drought, failed crops, and an oversupply of goods. Just like the farmers faced these kinds of problems, Alexandra and her family were facing the same ones. Also the text describes immigrants as coming to America, trying to fit in, but still wanting to keep their traditions. Alexandra’s mother is a great example of this when she said she would never live in a sod house. Like previously stated, Alexandra’s father, John, dies of an illness in the beginning of the story and leaves Alexandra in charge. Alexandra’s brothers desperately want to give up the land but she refuses. She knows that to be able to thrive in the world, getting rid of their land is the last thing they should want to do. Instead, she goes out and gathers information from other immigrants and farmers and decides to buy more land. It was not commonly known for women to be the head of households and land owners during this time, but Alexandra definitely broke this stereotype. I don’t think however that Alexandra remained in thrall to any of these stereotypes. She was still the nurturing care taker of the family. She practically raised her younger brother, Emil. Also, Alexandra still always respected her brothers and never acted “above” them,