O Pioneers!

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O Pioneers! Part 4, Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Frank learns about Amédée’s 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 has only just returned home himself and gone to bed. Marie feels extremely lonely after hanging up the phone. She means to confess everything between her and Emil to Alexandra after Emil leaves so that their relationship can be honest. Until then, however, she does not know what to do with herself. Marie decides to go outside.
Marie wants to confess everything about her relationship with Emil to Alexandra because Alexandra is one of her closest companions, and she wants their relationship to be honest. As it is, she feels lonely being left alone in her house, so she seeks comfort in nature. It’s in the outdoors that she finds some solace.
Themes
Power of the Land Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Marie wanders out to the path to the Bergsons’, stopping to sit down at the stile. She feels disappointed that Emil did not come to tell her the news, and she muses on her feelings for Emil. She feels that there is no more harm in indulging in her feelings for him in her mind, now that he is leaving for good. She can only hurt herself by dwelling on them, and she has no intention of dragging anyone else down with her.
Marie is finally able to face her feelings for Emil once she believes that she won’t see him again before he leaves for law school. She thinks that she can’t do harm to those around her by indulging in her feelings in her head, even if it causes herself some pain. Thinking that she will never see Emil again, she lets her feelings for him free at last.
Themes
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
Marie wanders to the pond where Emil once shot the wild ducks, and it occurs to her that there is a dirty way out of this life. She feels, however, that she would not want to take it—as long as she has her feelings for Emil, she wishes to live a hundred years and to treasure the pain it brings her.
Briefly, the pond and the image of the fallen ducks remind Marie that there is the option—the temptation—of suicide to consider. Just as the wild ducks were killed, she could kill herself. But life is too sweet for her—even the pain of life is too sweet—for her to go through with it.
Themes
Power of the Land Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
When Emil wakes the next morning, Alexandra meets him in the sitting room and tells him that she hadn’t wanted to wake him when they phoned—but that Amédée died at three o’clock that morning.
One of Emil’s main ties to the land in Hanover falls away once Amédée dies. This is a case where delaying gratification did not pay off—Amédée attempted to put off his pain in order to do more work, and it caused his appendicitis to go undiagnosed for too long. Nature and the world are harsh, and bad things can happen to good people. Luck comes and it goes.
Themes
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
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