O Pioneers Study Guide

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O PioneersStudy Guide 
A Viewing Guide for the 1992 Hallmark Film

 O Pioneers is a novel by Willa Cather. O Pioneers is a story of the character Alexandra Bergson, the strong and determined daughter of a Swedish immigrant left to carry on her father's struggle against the harsh prairie lands of the West. She fights to keep her family together and sacrifices her youth and beauty to a lifetime of hard labor.

 

1. When  and where  does the story begin?

 

Winter  1883     Alexandra is 19

2.       Where does a flashback take the audience to? (and when?)

 

3.       Why does Carl teach himself to climb tall poles?

 

4.       Why is Alexandra concerned about her father’s health?

 

5.       Describe young Marie in the general store.

 

6.       Who is Emil?  What has gotten away from Emil?

 

7.       What type of home do the homesteading Bergsons live in, in 1883?

 

8.       What important promise must young Alexandra make to her ill father?

 

9.       What does John Bergson make Alexandra promise?  (3 things)

 

10.   What is Carl’s talent, besides climbing poles?

  

1885      Alexandra is 21

11.   Who is Ivar?  When we first meet him, what are some of the first words out of his mouth?

 

12.   Carl Linstrum’s family packs up and abandons their farm. Where does Carl go?

 

13.   How is Carl like the seagull on Ivar’s land?

 

14.   What decision does Alexandra make after making a trip to the “river country” ?

 

 

Summer  1899     Alexandra is 35 years old.

15.   Who returns in a red dress once again?  Describe her.

 

16.   Who has Marie married?  What clues do you have about that marriage?

 

17.   Characterize the relationship between 21 year old Emil and 21 year old Marie?

 

18.   When Marie playfully calls out, “Forgive me, Emil...forgive me,” what does Emil answer?

 

19.   Observe the people at Alexandra’s dinner table/  What does this indicate about her farm?

 

20.   Where is Carl planning on traveling to after visiting with Alexandra?  Why is he going there?

 

21.   What are Alexandra’s brothers, Oscar and Lou, worried about?  What motive do they think Carl has for visiting?

 

22.   “Wild things - they are much too happy to kill.”  When and why does Marie say this?

 

23.   Marie always seems to be wearing red.  What does that color symbolize, and why is it an appropriate color for Marie?

 

24.   Why does Frank Shabata think people are laughing at him behind his back?

 

25.   What does Frank mean when he tells Alexandra, “She hides what is in her heart.”

 

26.   Who does Marie blame for the “good times” being over?  Why?

 

27.   Why does Emil decide to leave Nebraska?  Where is he going to?

 

28.   Alexandra tells Carl that “people have to snatch happiness when they can.”  How does this relate to her or anyone else in the story?

 

O Pioneers Study Guide Part 2

 

Need more help? Read questions and answers from fellow students below. If you're question hasn't already been asked, ask it now.

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Compare and contrast lou and oscar.how are they different from each other in tempermant(personality,outlook?)

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