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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Willa Cather – from O Pioneers! and "A Wagner Matinée"

Willa Cather, here, did a great job of staying with the Realism period, just like all the other authors I have talked about in the last few blogs over this Realism project. It sounds as if both pieces are written like how normal people would talk, called the natural vernacular of the time. Realism, more specifically Regionalism, is a characteristic of both pieces because Cather talks about issues with farming and rural life in the passage from "O Pioneers!" (Cather, "O Pioneers!," 489) and about some bumbling travesties in "A Wagner Matinée" (Cather, "A Wagner," 521-526). These stories are not so much part of the subsect called Naturalism because they had nothing to do with nature's beings or how they interacted. So, Regionalism is still the best description to give to Willa Cather's works here. The section from "O Pioneers!" is focused on these Bergson boys and the harsh and unfair ways they had to live. These boys were farmers on new, prospective land out of the city, but the harvest had not been good, causing many of their fellow, neighboring farmers to declare bankruptcy and forclose their land to try to cut their losses (Cather, "O Pioneers!," 489). The boys themselves were also facing the same difficulties but were slightly more optimistic after the first bad year, but that turned out to "bite them in the butt" because the following years proved to be no more fruitful (Cather, "O Pioneers!," 489). Society in "O Pioneers!" is a very important part of this section. Not only does society fail on top of the Bergson boys (Cather, "O Pioneers!," 489), but it is also simply and plainly discussed. The common person was meant to have "a steady job, a few holidays, nothing to think about, and [he] would have been very happy" (Cather, "O Pioneers!," 489). That was the basic American Dream, also - to have an average life without problems or troubles with a steady source of income and happiness throughout the household. Unfortunately, the Bergson's American Dream would never be fulfilled in this passage from "O Pioneers!," and they had no choice in the matter because they were dragged out into farming as children (Cather, "O Pioneers!," 489). Honestly, "A Wagner Matinée" just did not capture my attention, but, from what I read for comprehension, society was not as prominent as it was in the section from "O Pioneers!" Apparently, Realism is also all about using the natural diction of the writer. There are no big, fancy words in any of the pieces I have discussed in this and my previous blogs. But, that can also be blamed on the region from which the Realism movement is based because the Midwest and western New England Regions do not have distinct accents. Heroes are not quite as up front in either of these works, but one can assume he would be a father who brings his family out to a new land to explore different options of living and find prosperity, joyeous prosperity, to create immense wealth for his family. Finally, because I am forced to talk about this, and I do not remember if I already did, government and religion have no impact on these stories whatsoever.


Works Cited

Cather, Willa. "from O Pioneers!" Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 489. Print.

Cather, Willa. "from 'A Wagner Matinée." Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 521-526. Print.

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