The Great Divide, a desolate expanse of cold dead land found in the town of Hanover Nebraska, happens to be the place that the Swedish migrants of the Bergson family have decided to settle. Despite the obvious failure of the people of Hanover to establish a sustainable residence -and the exodus of some of the other town residents- Alexandra Bergson stays on the wishes of her dying father that she might finally settle the land.
“And now the old story has begun to write itself over there," said Carl softly. "Isn’t it queer: there are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before; like the larks in this country, that have been singing the same five notes for thousands of years.”
Although O Pioneers! starts out as a story of hardship, resilience, and unstable anxiety; it progresses into a story about life after a hardship. This shift in narrative is not in any way jarring for the reader and if anything makes perfect sense to those reading the story. Willa Cather writes in language that is colorful and engaging while still easy to understand. Cather addresses the themes of isolation, companionship, and the power nature has over man all in a way that even a 7th grader --the grade I first read the book-- can pick up on. Whether this is your first or fifth AP book I would highly recommend it to anyone. The book is available for free online (perfectly legal of course) at the following hyperlink.
All images courtesy of Wikipedia...