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alexandra novel cather prairie

a novel by Willa Cather, published in 1913. The novel, with a title taken from Walt Whitman, celebrates the courage and transfiguring stoicism of immigrants in Nebraska, where Cather grew up. After the death of her father, Alexandra Bergson assumes responsibility for the family farm since her mother lacks the ability to do so and her brother, Emil, is too young. Alexandra finds in herself the qualities to build up the farm, qualities which the author sees as contributing significantly to the civilization the early settlers created for themselves out on the prairie. Not entirely satisfied by work alone, and deploring the descent into materialistic meanness of some members of her community, much of Alexandra's emotional attention is given to the sensitive and intelligent Emil, until he and the young married woman with whom he is having an affair are killed by her jealous husband. As a result of this terrible tragedy, Alexandra decides to marry her old friend, Carl Lindstrum. The novel is distinguished by beautiful incidental descriptions evoking life in the Nebraskan prairie, and is the earliest example of the American pastoral which Cather sought and practised in her work.

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