Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Describing the Business of Farming in O Pioneers! by Willa Silbert Cath

Describing the Business of Farming in O Pioneers! by Willa Silbert Cather Willa Sibert Cather was born in Virginia, December 7, 1873. At the age of nine, Cather's family moved to Nebraska. Willa fell in love with the country, with the waste prairies of the Nebraska. In her life, Willa worked for different journals and magazines and received many honorary degrees, even the Pulitzer Prize. Her literary life was extremely influenced by her childhood in the wild country. In her life story, I actually didn't find any trace of doing a business relative to farming, or running a farm on her own. Therefore she doesn't seem to have practical experience with business of farming. Maybe that's why she describes it in a general way only, without any particulars. The Cather's novel O Pioneers! gives us a realistic picture of people's life at the end of the nineteenth century. The new incomers, who settled the unfriendly countries of American continent, had very hard times. It was necessary for them to do whatever they were able to, to earn some money or to gain something to eat. As we can see in Cather's novel, many people were farming. But some of them were not farmers in their country of origin, they just started farming in the new home. Even though they knew nothing about it. Willa Cather describes a history of such people, a Norwegian immigrant family, the Bergsons. The beginnings in the new world were very tough for the Bergson family. And the situation didn't seem to get better. They have met several misfortunes that have held their farming business back. „One winter his cattle had perished in a blizzard. The next summer one of his plow horses broke its leg in a prairie-dog hole and had to be shot. Another summer he lost his hogs from cholera, and a valuable stallion died from a rattlesnake bite. Time and again his crops had failed. He had lost two children, boys, that came between Lou and Emil, and there had been the cost of sickness and death' This is Cather's idea of what John Bergson had to fight against. It's clear, that the whole family felt discouraged and helpless when there was no success coming. They saw many people around them selling their land and giving the farming up. They were going to find their fortune somewhere else. After John Bergson died, his sons also wanted to give up and change the hard work on the infertile land for some... ...ittle joke. It pretended to be poor because nobody knew how to work it right; and then, all at once, it worked itself. It woke up out of its sleep and stretched itself, and it was so big, so rich, that we suddenly found we were rich, just from sitting still.' I don't know much about farming at the end of the nineteenth century, but I heard something in the school and they have told nothing about becoming rich just from sitting still. This is the romantic point of view of the problem, and that's the Willa Cather's point of view. Actually, there has been some business behind the success. The fact, that Alexandra was buying more and more low-price land. She was very clever. She knew exactly what to do, to become rich and struggle no more. She could count the expenses and the profits several years ahead. But she did all this only because some spirit told her to, only because she felt something powerful coming out of the land. Did Willa Cather think this is the way that bussiness works? It seems to be her romantic illusion. I don't think Alexandra had sufficient reasons to mortgage a farm and start a big business from nothing with all risks. But she made a bet and won. Lucky girl.

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