O Pioneers!

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Marie Shabata Character Analysis

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 her popular with everyone she meets. She runs off and marries Frank Shabata when she’s just eighteen, but comes to believe that she was not the right person for Frank. She comes to return Emil’s love, and though she tries (and fails) to resist her feelings.

Marie Shabata Quotes in O Pioneers!

The O Pioneers! quotes below are all either spoken by Marie Shabata or refer to Marie Shabata. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Power of the Land Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of O Pioneers! published in 1994.
Part 2, Chapter 8 Quotes

“The Bohemians, you know, were tree worshipers before the missionaries came. Father says the people in the mountains still do queer things, sometimes,--they believe that trees bring good or bad luck.”

Related Characters: Marie Shabata (speaker)
Related Symbols: Land, White Mulberry Tree
Page Number: 102
Explanation and Analysis:

It is a sunny day; Frank has gone to the saloon, and Marie has ventured into the orchard to pick cherries. There she encounters Emil, who she promises not to disturb her; however, she then proceeds to talk to him about the natural landscape and pagan spirituality. She has asked Emil about the religion of Swedes before Christianity. He isn't sure about it, and in this passage Marie explains that the Bohemians were "tree worshippers" before the arrival of Christian missionaries. Although Marie frames the Bohemian's pagan practices as "queer," it is obvious that she is fascinated by this way of life, and indeed, the pagan worship of nature coheres with the magical significance of the natural world within the novel. 

Like the "people in the mountains," the characters in the novel––particularly Alexandra––come to think of the land as having a will of its own. To some extent, the experience of migrating to the New World has prompted a temporal return back to a pre-Christian way of life. Marie's description of the Bohemians also brings to mind Native Americans, whose absence haunts the novel. Like Bohemian paganism, Native American religious practices bestow significance on trees and the natural world. Although they have been murdered and driven from the land the pioneers now occupy, their presence lingers through passages like this. 

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Part 3, Chapter 1 Quotes

Alexandra had never heard Marie speak so frankly about her husband before, and she felt that it was wiser not to encourage her. No good, she reasoned, ever came from talking about such things…

Related Characters: Alexandra Bergson, Marie Shabata, Frank Shabata
Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:

Marie has invited Alexandra and Mrs. Lee over to her house while Frank is out. Here, Marie admits to Alexandra that the night before she had been crying from loneliness, and later tells Alexandra that she thinks Frank should have married a different woman, one who was more devoted to him. Alexandra is surprised by this comment and worries that no good "ever came from talking about such things." Although Alexandra is less worried about propriety and reputation than other characters (such as her brothers), she has a strong aversion to the dangers of passionate emotions.

Alexandra's maturity and pragmatism allow her to sense that "no good" will come of Marie's expression of regret (and, by extension, her love for Emil). To Alexandra, it is better to stoically endure misfortunes one cannot change than to speak too openly about them. As it turns out, of course, Alexandra's intuition on this matter is tragically correct (although also not very romantic or personally fulfilling). 

Part 3, Chapter 2 Quotes

If Alexandra had had much imagination she might have guessed what was going on in Marie’s mind, and she would have seen long before what was going on in Emil’s. But that, as Emil himself had more than once reflected, was Alexandra’s blind side, and her life had not been of the kind to sharpen her vision. Her training had all been toward the end of making her proficient in what she had undertaken to do. Her personal life, her own realization of herself, was almost a subconscious existence; like an underground river that came to the surface only here and there, at intervals months apart, and then sank again to flow on under her own fields.

Related Characters: Alexandra Bergson, Emil Bergson, Marie Shabata
Related Symbols: Land
Page Number: 135
Explanation and Analysis:

After the visit to Marie's house, Alexandra has seen her less and less, as Marie has become more withdrawn and religious. In this passage, the narrator reflects that if Alexandra had more "imagination," she would have been able to guess that Marie and Emil were in love. However, this kind of social intuition is Alexandra's weak point. She understands how to thrive as a successful farmer, but her own "personal life" remains a mystery to her––"like an underground river that came to the surface only here and there." By comparing Alexandra to a river, the narrator again emphasizes her unusual similarity to the natural landscape. With little interest in or understanding of social life, Alexandra's consciousness resembles the impassivity of the land to human affairs. 

While there are many ways in which Alexandra's harmony with the land allows her to thrive, this passage illustrates that it also hinders her. Her poor understanding of the interior lives of those around her prevents her from acknowledging the suffering of Emil and Marie, and from doing anything to alter their tragic fate. 

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Marie Shabata Character Timeline in O Pioneers!

The timeline below shows where the character Marie Shabata appears in O Pioneers!. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 1
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Alexandra enters the store and finds Emil playing with Marie Tovesky, a pretty little Bohemian girl from Omaha. Marie is dressed in an expensive outfit... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
When Joe’s friends give Marie a bag of candy, she asks to be let down so that she can share... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 1
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Pioneering and Immigration Theme Icon
...he continues working. However, when a contralto voice calls to Emil, he turns to see Marie, a young woman now. She calls to say that she’ll give him a lift if... (full context)
Power of the Land Theme Icon
Emil and Marie drive westward, towards Alexandra’s homestead, which is impressive in its trimness and care for detail.... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 4
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Alexandra tells Carl about Marie Tovesky, who has bought the Linstrums’ old place. Marie ran away from convent school when... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 5
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Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
...pasture, toward the pond. He discovers, however, that he’s not alone. Below him, Emil and Marie advance cautiously towards the pond, hoping to hunt some ducks. When Emil manages to shoot... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 6
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...quite the same. Alexandra, surprised, says that of course no one could take Carl’s place—but Marie is a wonderful companion. Carl asks whether Alexandra is at all disappointed in their reunion,... (full context)
Power of the Land Theme Icon
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Carl and Alexandra admire the orchard Carl used to water, and Alexandra calls Marie, who comes running. She invites her guests into the house, but Alexandra suggests that they... (full context)
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Pioneering and Immigration Theme Icon
Soon, Marie springs up and goes to fetch something to show Carl. She returns with a branch... (full context)
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Marie exclaims that that is a good story, and goes on to describe Carl as she... (full context)
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Half an hour later, as Carl and Alexandra are leaving Marie, they meet Frank Shabata coming up the path. Marie runs up to him to introduce... (full context)
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Marie follows Frank into the house, doting on him and telling him that she will make... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 7
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Dignity of Work Theme Icon
Marie’s father, Albert Tovesky, settled in Omaha and became a leader and adviser among the people.... (full context)
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Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
Frank became more determined than ever to have Marie, and Marie pined in the convent until her eighteenth birthday, then ran off and married... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 8
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...their neighbors’ divorce, growing angry at the details about how they purportedly spend their money. Marie sighs, always dreading the arrival of the Sunday papers, since they tend to give Frank... (full context)
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Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
...heads to the saloon because he claims that the ground is too wet to plough. Marie heads to her porch to do some butter churning, but she longs to go out... (full context)
Power of the Land Theme Icon
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Pioneering and Immigration Theme Icon
When Emil reaches Marie, she is sitting beneath the white mulberry tree with the cherries beside her. She tells... (full context)
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Dignity of Work Theme Icon
Emil says that he likes to talk to Carl about New York, and Marie seems alarmed that he might go off there. Emil defiantly responds that there is nothing... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 9
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...as she calls to her husband. Emil continues to tease until he catches sight of Marie’s flashing eyes, and then he returns Angélique to Amédée. (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 11
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...that Alexandra should do whatever she wants to do in these matters and adds that Marie has said that it would serve everyone right if Alexandra were to run off with... (full context)
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Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
...a little ridiculous to be contemplating marriage at her age. His thoughts quickly turn to Marie, however, and he agonizes over the fact that she is married and seems not to... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 1
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A week into Mrs. Lee’s visit at Alexandra’s, Marie calls to invite them over. Frank has gone to town for the day. Mrs. Lee... (full context)
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Pioneering and Immigration Theme Icon
Marie asks whether Alexandra has sent out Emil’s Christmas box yet, and when Alexandra responds that... (full context)
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Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
After Mrs. Lee declares that she’s tired, Marie and Alexandra head upstairs to look for some crochet patterns for the old woman to... (full context)
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Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
After Alexandra and Mrs. Lee head off in the snow, Marie sits down with Emil’s letters, examining the foreign stamps. Marie is aware that Emil’s letters... (full context)
Power of the Land Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Alexandra later remembers this visit as the last satisfactory visit she has with Marie, who continues to withdraw into herself. The harsh winter weather also prevents the two friends... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 2
Power of the Land Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
...she might have been able to guess at what was going on between Emil and Marie—however, Alexandra’s attention has always been absorbed in doing what she needs to do to make... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 1
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Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
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...brought home, and Alexandra informs him that all the girls there will be wearing fancy costumes—Marie will be wearing a Bohemian dress and telling fortunes. Alexandra is proud of her brother... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Pioneering and Immigration Theme Icon
Alexandra wanders into the basement, where the women are setting up their stands. Marie sees her and rushes to her, only to stop short when she sees that Emil... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...office, he lingers outside with the boys, singing and talking on the terrace. It makes Marie nervous to be able to hear but not see him, but once the boys arrive... (full context)
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...auction, at which Emil allows everyone to bid on one of his turquoise shirt studs. Marie attempts to get Frank to bid, but he refuses, and the stud goes to a... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
...will have a chance to kiss his sweetheart. The only problem is the candle in Marie’s tent, and Amédée enlists Emil to blow out the candle, as he has no sweetheart.... (full context)
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At five minutes to eleven, Emil wanders up to Marie’s tent and asks to have his fortune read. He gazes at her intently, and she... (full context)
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Amédée turns out the lights, and Marie starts up into Emil’s arms, where she doesn’t have time to think before they kiss.... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 2
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Pioneering and Immigration Theme Icon
...Signa and Nelse walk their gift cows to their new home on Alexandra’s north quarter. Marie complains that she has no patience with Signa for marrying such a grumpy fellow, and... (full context)
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Emil asks Marie why she ran away with Frank Shabata, and Marie says simply that she loved him.... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 3
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Pioneering and Immigration Theme Icon
...from packing his books and lies down. He studies Alexandra in the lamplight, recalling that Marie had called her handsome. He studies the portrait of their father on the wall and... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 5
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...illness when he returns from work in the evening and goes off to the saloon. Marie telephones Alexandra, who tells her that Amédée is in very bad shape and that Emil... (full context)
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Marie wanders out to the path to the Bergsons’, stopping to sit down at the stile.... (full context)
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Marie wanders to the pond where Emil once shot the wild ducks, and it occurs to... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 6
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...church is filling for Mass, and he sees that Frank Shabata has come alone, without Marie. Emil turns and enters the church, sitting in Amédée’s empty pew. During Mass, Emil tortures... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
...too, seems beautiful to him. He realizes that he is riding to say goodbye to Marie, without bitterness. It seems to him that his horse is flying, and when he arrives... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 7
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When Frank reaches the dark door of the house, he realizes that he has shot Marie, and he prays that she is not suffering. He takes Emil’s horse and starts off... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 8
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...covered with a dark stain. Emil had been shot in the heart and died quickly. Marie, on the other hand, had been shot through the right lung and her carotid artery,... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 1
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Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Three months after the violent deaths of Marie and Emil, Ivar is sitting in the shed at 5 o’clock in the evening, mending... (full context)
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...less than she blames others, including herself. She feels guilty for having thrown Emil and Marie together at every opportunity, and for not recognizing their feelings for each other. Alexandra recalls... (full context)
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...help Frank, who she feels she is able to understand more than she could understand Marie. The day after Emil’s funeral, Alexandra had written to Carl, but she heard nothing in... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 2
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Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
...didn’t mean to hurt “dat woman” or “dat man.” He confesses that he’s almost forgotten Marie’s name. Frank seems not altogether human anymore to Alexandra, who tells Frank that she doesn’t... (full context)
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Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
...and feels that it’s awfully unfair that Frank has ended up this way. She blames Marie for making those around her suffer for her affectionate and impulsive nature. She once more... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 3
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Alexandra asks Carl whether he understands what happened between Emil and Marie. Carl explains that they probably tried very hard to resist their feelings. It’s the reason... (full context)
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Carl describes the day he saw Emil and Marie hunting ducks by the pond, and how he felt they were young and charming and... (full context)