In Willa Cather's novel O Pioneers we discover the ever-present theory of ?survival of the
fittest?. This story shows the brutal facts of life and that only the strong, may it be in will or man
power, will strive forth and survive.
This is a story of the strong in will. It is set in the open plains on the Nebraska prairie,
with wild winters and beautiful springtime. It is the tale of a pioneer family, the Bergson's, and
their fight for survival. Alexandra, the eldest child is left to run the farm when her father dies.
Alexandra and her family suffer many hardships and soon have to make the biggest decision of
their lives, whether to stay on the Great Divide and attempt to fulfill their father's wishes or to
give up and sell their land to the bankers.
I thought that this book really showed the true hardships endured during this time and the
real intensity of what it was like to live on the Great Divide. The intense description of the
emotion between Alexandra and her brothers Lou, Oscar, and Emil, really made me feel as if I
was a part of the struggle. Willa Cather must have loved the beauty of the land where she grew
up because she took such pains explaining the Great Divide in such detail, I could almost picture
what it was like back then. And when she explained the French Church it was as if I could see it
with my own eyes ?The French Church, properly the Church of Sainte-Agnes, stood upon a hill.
The high, narrow, red-brick building, with its tall steeple and steep roof, could be seen for miles
across the wheat fields though the little town of Sainte- Agnes was completely hidden away at the
foot of the hill. The church looked powerful and triumphant there on its eminence...?
This book was written about a time when America was just beginning to develop. Today,
however, America has been settled and we as a country have gained much more power.

We also have more technology to make things easier. After reading this book I find that I now
have much more respect for those pioneers who settled our once vast wilderness. I never realized
how hard it must have been to stay warm and healthy without electric heaters, insulation, well
equipped hospitals, and medicine. These people risked their lives and their families for
independence, freedom, and opportunities. This story showed me that no matter what happens
we need to follow our dreams just as Alexandra did. When her father died she didn't give up.
And when all their neighbors had had enough of the depression and went back Alexandra stood
her ground. When their neighbors, the Linstrums, gave up the fight and went back. Lou and
Oscar were convinced that they should leave too, but Alexandra refused. When she was a young
girl someone told her to watch what everyone else was doing and do just the opposite. Whoever
said that was right, majority may rule but that doesn't always make them right.
Cather shows us that life is a struggle and that there are many steps in life. An individual starts at
the bottom step and tries to climb that staircase not only with an open mind but with a strong will
and a big imagination. There are many things in life that come along and try to knock us down
those stairs but if we stand tall and listen to only what is in our hearts we shall stand firm on our
stair. But if we do get knocked down , the only thing we can do is get up and push on.