Surrounded by Small Men
"It is your fate to always be surrounded by little men" (92) In Willa Cather's novel, O Pioneers, Alexandra Bergson, the provider of her family, is full of imagination. This ability to think outside the box has brought her success. Although she possesses this gift, the men around are considerably close-minded. Since the men in her life, especially her brothers, Lou and Oscar, and her long-time friend, Carl, are stubbornly unreceptive to new ideas they unintentionally deny her happiness and cause themselves to appear as “little men”. Alexandra is in love with Carl. However, she is five years his senior and wealthier than he is. When Carl came back to the Divide, where the Bergson’s live, for a visit, their chemistry was palpable and it caused people to start to talk. Rumors soon reached her brothers, who thought the idea of Carl and Alexandra being romantically involved was fatuous. But, nonetheless, they hastened to question the validity of what they heard. They approached Alexandra with their concerns and when she gave no assent to the rumors truth or falsity, they panicked. Their worry for what others would think blocked them off from allowing their sister to be happy. In a heated argument they told her, “Everyone knows he is nearly five years younger then you, and is after your money” (86). In this thought process, they are little men because they lack a broadness of mind that would allow them to be happy for Alexandra instead of embarrassed by her. Carl, too, is a little man, but for different reasons. He let’s his pride get in his way. Carl’s love for Alexandra and can be seen without a single spoken word. Yet, when Alexandra opens up to him, and tells him that, if he wants, all that she has is his, Carl pleads, “I will go North at once. Instead of idling in California all winter, I shall get my bearings up there. I won’t waste another week. Be patient with me, Alexandra. Give me a year!” (92-93). Carl denies her proposition because...
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