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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.
which adds to Lou’s sharpness and uneasiness and tempts him to make a show. The trouble with Lou is that he is tricky, and his neighbors have found out that, as Ivar says, he has not a fox’s face for nothing. Politics being the natural field for such talents, he neglects his farm to attend conventions and to run for county offices. Lou’s wife, formerly Annie Lee, has grown to look curiously like her husband. Her face has become longer, sharper, more aggressive. She wears her yellow hair in a
Here, let me take them.” He snatched the ducks out of her apron. “Don’t be cross, Emil. Only—Ivar’s right about wild things. They’re too happy to kill. You can tell just how they felt when they flew up. They were scared, but they didn’t really think anything could hurt them. No, we won’t do that any more.” “All right,” Emil assented. “I’m sorry I made you feel bad.” As he looked down into her tearful eyes, there was a curious, sharp young bitterness in his own. Carl watched them as they moved
hand, and looked delightedly at the black velvet coat that brought out his fair skin and fine blond head. Marie was incapable of being lukewarm about anything that pleased her. She simply did not know how to give a half-hearted response. When she was delighted, she was as likely as not to stand on her tip-toes and clap her hands. If people laughed at her, she laughed with them. “Do the men wear clothes like that every day, in the street?” She caught Emil by his sleeve and turned him about. “Oh,
enter the law school at Ann Arbor. They had planned that Alexandra was to come to Michigan—a long journey for her—at Christmas time, and spend several weeks with him. Nevertheless, he felt that this leavetaking would be more final than his earlier ones had been; that it meant a definite break with his old home and the beginning of something new—he did not know what. His ideas about the future would not crystallize; the more he tried to think about it, the vaguer his conception of it became. But
one thing was clear, he told himself; it was high time that he made good to Alexandra, and that ought to be incentive enough to begin with. As he went about gathering up his books he felt as if he were uprooting things. At last he threw himself down on the old slat lounge where he had slept when he was little, and lay looking up at the familiar cracks in the ceiling. “Tired, Emil?” his sister asked. “Lazy,” he murmured, turning on his side and looking at her. He studied Alexandra’s face for a