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Cather’s sentimental and somewhat controversial novel tells the story of the Bergsons, a family of Swedish pioneers that settles for life in the American prairie. While Alexandra, the family matriarch, is able to turn the family farm into a financial success, her brother Emil must grapple with the tragedy of solace and forbidden love. A novel surprisingly ahead of its time, this proto-feminist work touches upon a wide range of themes, including love, marriage, temptation, and isolation.
of chromo “studies” which the druggist sold to the Hanover women who did china-painting. Alexandra explained her predicament, and the boy followed her to the corner, where Emil still sat by the pole. “I’ll have to go up after her, Alexandra. I think at the depot they have some spikes I can strap on my feet. Wait a minute.” Carl thrust his hands into his pockets, lowered his head, and darted up the street against the north wind. He was a tall boy of fifteen, slight and narrow-chested. When he
kitchen. Through the day, while the baking and washing and ironing were going on, the father lay and looked up at the roof beams that he himself had hewn, or out at the cattle in the corral. He counted the cattle over and over. It diverted him to speculate as to how much weight each of the steers would probably put on by spring. He often called his daughter in to talk to her about this. Before Alexandra was twelve years old she had begun to be a help to him, and as she grew older he had come to
It was a still, deep-breathing summer night, full of the smell of the hay fields. Sounds of laughter and splashing came up from the pasture, and when the moon rose rapidly above the bare rim of the prairie, the pond glittered like polished metal, and she could see the flash of white bodies as the boys ran about the edge, or jumped into the water. Alexandra watched the shimmering pool dreamily, but eventually her eyes went back to the sorghum patch south of the barn, where she was planning to make
French girls, Marie knew, were hoping that Emil would take them to supper, and she was relieved when he took only his sister. Marie caught Frank’s arm and dragged him to the same table, managing to get seats opposite the Bergsons, so that she could hear what they were talking about. Alexandra made Emil tell Mrs. Xavier Chevalier, the mother of the twenty, about how he had seen a famous matador killed in the bull-ring. Marie listened to every word, only taking her eyes from Emil to watch Frank’s
ripe it will begin to shatter next week. My wheat’s short but it’s gotta grand full berries. What’s he slowing down for? We haven’t got header boxes enough to feed the thresher, I guess.” Amédée started hot-foot across the stubble, leaning a little to the right as he ran, and waved to the engineer not to stop the engine. Emil saw that this was no time to talk about his own affairs. He mounted his mare and rode on to Sainte-Agnes, to bid his friends there good-bye. He went first to see Raoul