O Pioneers Study Guide

O PioneersStudy Guide 
A Viewing Guide for the 1992 Hallmark Film

Summer 1900


29.   What happens when the lights go out at the church festival?


30.   What does Frank go looking for after the lights come back on?  What does he find?


31.   What happens to Emil’s best friend, Amedee Chevalier?  Why might this make Emil think about “snatching happiness”


32.   A procession of men in the area are riding to the crossroads to meet the church bishop coming for a rare visit.  They will welcome him and escort him to the church.  Why does Emil go with them?


33.   Where does Emil find Marie?  What happens?


34.   Frank returns home and spots Emil’s horse.  What does Frank look for in the house?


35.   What do you think Frank sees from the upstairs window?


36.   Frank grabs a gun and does what?


37.   What does Frank Shabata do after he uses the gun?


38.   What does Ivar say when he  finds Marie and Emil?


Fall 1900

39.   Why does Alexandra decide to visit the prison at Lincoln, Nebraska?


40.   Why does Alexandra blame herself for what happened?


41. 'Forgiveness heals.  Blame keeps hurts open.’   What is Ivar thinking when he says this?


42.   What does Frank say as soon as he sees Alexandra?


43.   Why does Frank ask, “You can’t trap a free little bird, can you?”


44.   Why is Alexandra going to work to get Frank pardoned by the governor?


45.   When Alexandra arrives home, who is there to greet her ?  Why is he there?


46.   Will Alexandra ever leave Nebraska?  Why?  Will she return?


47.   Why might Alexandra draw comfort from her words, “We come and go, but the land is always here”?



48.   Why does Alexandra say, “I think when friends marry, they are safe.”  Do you agree?



49.   Ivar is portrayed as being a spiritual guide of sorts in the story.  Look at question #11 and its answer.  How do those words foreshadow later events?    




Cather published the story in 1913, but the novel’s setting is the 1890s in Nebraska.  The vast land offers possibility and peril for the pioneer settlers who tackled the prairie and tamed it into rich farmland.


Elements to look for in O Pioneers!:

·         Naturalism and Realism: patterns - seasons, romances, life and death, images
metaphors - birds, the land

   * carving an identity/forging a nation
   * the life cycle - hardness of life
   * romance/love - are we destined to be with certain people?
   * the land as a powerful natural force that demands its own way

Structure: watch for time shifts


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