O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

Oxford University Press, 1997

Willa Cather's second novel, O Pioneers! (1913) tells the story of Alexandra Bergson and her determination to save her immigrant family's Nebraska farm. By placing a strong, self-reliant woman at the center of her tale, Cather gives the quintessentially American novel of the soil a radical cast. Yet, although influenced by the democratic utopianism of Walt Whitman and the serene regionalism of Sarah Orne Jewett, O Pioneers! is more than merely an elegy for the lost glories of America's pioneer past. In its rage for order and efficiency, the novel testifies to the cultural politics of the Progressive Era, the period of massive social and economic transformations that helped to modernize the United States in the years between the Civil War and World War.