O Pioneers!

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Alexandra Bergson

The novel's protagonist, Alexandra Bergson, is a strong, tall woman, the eldest child of the Swedish immigrant John Bergson. Alexandra is a resourceful, practical person who loves and understands the land as no one… (read full character analysis)

Carl Linstrum

Carl is Alexandra’s childhood neighbor and best friend. He grows to become a brooding, sensitive man, who leaves the Divide for a career in engraving and then eventually leaves again to mine for gold in… (read full character analysis)

Marie Shabata

Marie is Emil’s childhood friend and the object of his love. She comes from a Bohemian family and is beautiful, with red cheeks and yellow flecks in her eyes, and her liveliness and affection make… (read full character analysis)

Frank Shabata

Frank is Marie’s husband and Alexandra’s neighbor in the latter half of the book. He is described as a cheerful, handsome man early in life, but he becomes embittered by hard work and turns into… (read full character analysis)

Lou Bergson

Lou is one of Alexandra’s brother, the middle brother in the Bergson family. He is more intelligent than the third Bergson brother, Oscar, but he’s also petty, small-minded, and flighty, often involving himself in… (read full character analysis)
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Oscar Bergson

Oscar is Alexandra’s younger brother and the eldest son of John Bergson. He is solidly built, but a slow thinker. He doesn’t mind hard work, as long as it is part of his routine. Oscar… (read full character analysis)

Crazy Ivar

Ivar is an elderly man with a strong upper body and white hair. He is deeply religious and loves animals, but his unconventional ways frighten most people. Alexandra recognizes that Ivar knows how to care… (read full character analysis)

Amédée Chevalier

Amédée, a light-hearted French boy, is Emil’s best friend. Amédée is slight of figure, graceful, and constantly joking around. He is very happily married to Angélique, and they have a newborn son he dotes on… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
Emil Bergson
Emil is Alexandra’s younger brother, and one of the people closest to her. Emil is handsome and intelligent, one of the novel’s only characters to have attended university. He is desperately in love with Marie Shabata, and their illicit love eventually brings tragedy to the Divide.
John Bergson
John Bergson is the father of Alexandra, Oscar, Lou, and Emil. An intelligent man, John Bergson left his life in Sweden for the difficult terrain of Nebraska. He falls sick at forty-six and leaves the farm in Alexandra’s capable hands, recognizing that she knows the land best.
Mrs. Bergson
The wife of John Bergson, Mrs. Bergson is a comfortable-looking, plump woman who loves routine just as her oldest son, Oscar, does. She misses the Old World and passes away a few years after her husband dies.
Angélique is Amédée’s wife. She has faith in their good fortune and jokes around with Emil, just like her husband does.
Signa is the youngest of the three Swedish girls Alexandra employs to do housework. She is Alexandra’s favorite, though she can be skittish around the men at the table. When Alexandra is upset after Emil’s death, Signa returns to take care of her.
Nelse, Signa’s suitor and eventual husband, is a gloomy fellow. He works for Alexandra on the farm and constantly scolds Signa about everything.
Albert Tovesky
Albert Tovesky, Marie’s father, is a successful town leader in Omaha. Marie is his youngest and favorite child.
Joe Tovesky
Joe Tovesky is Marie’s uncle. He dotes on Marie when she is a little girl, showing her off to his friends and buying her a mechanical toy from the shop in town.
Mrs. Lee
Mrs. Lee is Annie Lee’s mother. She is fond of Alexandra, as she misses her old country habits, and Annie and Lou don’t give her as much liberty as Alexandra does.
Milly is Lou and Annie’s daughter. Unlike her parents, Milly is kind and straightforward, and Alexandra is very fond of her.
Annie Lee
Annie Lee is Lou’s wife. She’s very conscious of her clothing and tries hard to be fashionable. She hopes to move to the city one day, when the girls are grown.
Mrs. Hiller
Mrs. Hiller is the Shabatas’ next-door neighbor.
Barney Flinn
Barney Flinn is Alexandra’s foreman, though he doesn’t officially go by that title.
Carrie Jensen
Carrie is the sister of Nelse Jensen. She was unhappy and suicidal until her parents sent her to Iowa to visit relatives. When she returned, she was cheerful and said that she was happy to work in a world that was so big and interesting.