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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.
neighbors? Because father had more brains. Our people were better people than these in the old country. We ought to do more than they do, and see further ahead. Yes, mother, I’m going to clear the table now.” Alexandra rose. The boys went to the stable to see to the stock, and they were gone a long while. When they came back Lou played on his dragharmonikag and Oscar sat figuring at his father’s secretary all evening. They said nothing more about Alexandra’s project, but she felt sure now that
a sigh which they had breathed together; almost sorrowful, as if each were afraid of wakening something in the other. When the lights came on again, everybody was laughing and shouting, and all the French girls were rosy and shining with mirth. Only Marie, in her little tent of shawls, was pale and quiet. Under her yellow turban the red coral pendants swung against white cheeks. Frank was still staring at her, but he seemed to see nothing. Years ago, he himself had had the power to take the
him. He caught Emil’s horse by the bit and led it out. He could not have buckled a bridle on his own. After two or three attempts, he lifted himself into the saddle and started for Hanover. If he could catch the one o’clock train, he had money enough to get as far as Omaha. While he was thinking dully of this in some less sensitized part of his brain, his acuter faculties were going over and over the cries he had heard in the orchard. Terror was the only thing that kept him from going back to
shoulder to a pale young man in convicts’ clothes who was seated at a desk in the corner, writing in a big ledger. “Bertie, when 1037 is brought in, you just step out and give this lady a chance to talk.” The young man bowed his head and bent over his ledger again. When Mr. Schwartz disappeared, Alexandra thrust her black-edged handkerchief nervously into her handbag. Coming out on the street-car she had not had the least dread of meeting Frank. But since she had been here the sounds and
nervously. He put out his finger and absently touched a button on her black jacket. “Alexandra,” he said in a low tone, looking steadily at the button, “you ain’ t’ink I use dat girl awful bad before —” “No, Frank. We won’t talk about that,” Alexandra said, pressing his hand. “I can’t help Emil now, so I’m going to do what I can for you. You know I don’t go away from home often, and I came up here on purpose to tell you this.” The warden at the glass door looked inquiringly. Alexandra nodded,