Analysis Of The Homestead Act In O Pioneers By Willa Cather

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Willa Cather entwines the historical dimension of the Homestead Act throughout her novel O Pioneers. Alexandra Bergson and her family must overcome many obstacles to accomplish successful farming in the Middle West. Cather uses the main character, Alexandra, to portray the great feat taken in order to continually learn how to cultivate the rugged land and make it into flourishing farmland. Alexandra followed her father’s wishes in taking care of the farm— a task that was uncertain to be accomplished. Willa Cather’s detailed story about the Bergson family—favoring the main character, Alexandra— describes a great depiction of what life was like for the pioneers that mastered cultivating the land and creating civilization. The Homestead …show more content…
The Homestead Act created Western Civilization, for the land was so cheap that it encouraged people to move there (“Positive…” p.n. 1). Not only were there many American citizens moving to the West, but there were also many immigrants that took advantage of the new law. “The lure of free land prompted millions of Europeans to immigrate to the United States… They came from Germany and Czechoslovakia, from Sweden and Norway, from England and Russia” (“Effects…” p.n. 1). Pioneers built shelters called “soddies,” which were made out plowed grass or dugouts on the side of hills— it was not possible for the citizens to build homes out of wood due to the fact of minimal trees (“Effects…” p.n. 1). When citizens learned how to cultivate the land, they built communities, and “towns began to develop [making it] easier for more people to continue the new trend of traveling into the frontier” (“Positive…” p.n. 1). When the Homestead Act had first begun, settlers had to learn how to provide for themselves without a community to help them. Later in time, communities were created as the land became more familiar to the pioneers and population continued to increase. The act gave women and black men the opportunity to create a settlement in the Middle West. It did not follow the traditional construct of only white men being able to purchase land, but rather gave women and slaves the opportunity to …show more content…
It had been sixteen years after Alexandra’s father left the farm in her care. In the novel, it describes the land: “The Divide is now thickly populated. The rich soil yields heavy harvests; the dry, bracing climate and the smoothness of the land make labor easy for men and beasts” (Cather 29). Alexandra and the people around her now have created a community with cultivation and settlement. Even though the land was tough and wild before John died, the land was tamed by the next generation of settlers. Everyone that had lived there learned how to deal with the negative aspects of living in the Divide. Just like in the book, many homesteaders found a way to create what is now economically the strongest farmlands in the United

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