O Pioneers!

Carl Linstrum Character Analysis

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 Alaska. He and Alexandra have a steadier kind of love between them, and they marry at the end of the book.

Carl Linstrum Quotes in O Pioneers!

The O Pioneers! quotes below are all either spoken by Carl Linstrum or refer to Carl Linstrum. 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 4 Quotes

“We hadn’t any of us much to do with it, Carl. The land did it. It had its little joke. It pretended to be poor because nobody knew how to work it right; and then, all at once, it worked itself…”

Related Characters: Alexandra Bergson (speaker), Carl Linstrum
Related Symbols: Land
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Isn’t it queer: there are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before; like the larks in this country, that have been singing the same five notes over for thousands of years.”

Related Characters: Carl Linstrum (speaker)
Related Symbols: Ducks and Wild Birds
Page Number: 80-81
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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“Freedom so often means that one isn’t needed anywhere. Here you are an individual, you have a background of your own, you would be missed. But off there in the cities there are thousands of rolling stones like me. We are all alike; we have no ties, we know nobody, we own nothing. When one of us dies, they scarcely know where to bury him…We sit in restaurants and concert halls and look about at the hundreds of our own kind and shudder.”

Related Characters: Carl Linstrum (speaker), Alexandra Bergson
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Part 2, Chapter 12 Quotes

“I have a feeling that if you go away, you will not come back. Something will happen to one of us, or to both. People have to snatch at happiness when they can, in this world. It is always easier to lose than to find. What I have is yours, if you care enough about me to take it.”

Related Characters: Alexandra Bergson (speaker), Carl Linstrum
Page Number: 122
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Part 5, Chapter 3 Quotes

“You belong to the land, “ Carl murmured, “as you have always said. Now more than ever.”

Related Characters: Carl Linstrum (speaker), Alexandra Bergson
Related Symbols: Land
Page Number: 208
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

“The land belongs to the future, Carl; that’s the way it seems to me. How many of the names on the county clerk’s plat will be there in fifty years? I might as well try to will the sunset over there to my brother’s children. We come and go, but the land is always here. And the people who love it and understand it are the people who own it—for a little while.”

Related Characters: Alexandra Bergson (speaker), Carl Linstrum
Related Symbols: Land
Page Number: 209
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Carl Linstrum Character Timeline in O Pioneers!

The timeline below shows where the character Carl Linstrum 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
...she refuses to come down. Alexandra resolves to go and see if she can find Carl Linstrum to help. (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
...and heads off to the saloon. Meanwhile, Alexandra hurries to the drug store to find Carl, and he returns with her to the pole where Emil’s kitten is. (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Pioneering and Immigration Theme Icon
Carl says he’ll have to go up after the kitten and heads into the depot to... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
...his face in his sister’s skirts, and Alexandra scolds him for being such a baby. Carl enters the store to let Alexandra know that the wagon is ready, and he carries... (full context)
Power of the Land Theme Icon
Pioneering and Immigration Theme Icon
As Carl and Alexandra ride into the cold dusk, the remaining light falls upon their faces, revealing... (full context)
Power of the Land Theme Icon
Carl asks Alexandra about her family, and she expresses uncertainty over what will happen after her... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 3
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
On a Sunday afternoon in July, six months after John Bergson’s death, Carl hears the Bergsons’ wagon passing by. He runs out to greet them, and they invite... (full context)
Power of the Land Theme Icon
Carl teases Emil, asking him if he isn’t scared to go to Ivar’s. Emil admits that... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 4
Power of the Land Theme Icon
During the second summer of drought, Carl finds Alexandra in her garden, where she had gone to dig sweet potatoes. When he... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
Alexandra accepts the news sadly, and Carl expresses his distress at running off and leaving Alexandra to face the worst of the... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...that Lou and Oscar will become even more discouraged when they hear the news, and Carl offers not to mention the Linstrums’ departure to them. Alexandra responds that she will tell... (full context)
Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
Pioneering and Immigration Theme Icon
Alexandra opens the discussion by mentioning Carl’s news, and Lou and Oscar jump in to argue that they too should quit. They... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The next day, Lou and Oscar sulk in the morning, and Alexandra encourages Carl to play cards with them in order to relieve their feelings. When evening comes, Alexandra... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 3
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
...approaches, asking whether Alexandra recognizes him. Alexandra takes a quick step forward once she recognizes Carl Linstrum and clasps his hands across the gate. She tells her nieces to go and... (full context)
Power of the Land Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Carl tells Alexandra that he can only stay a few days before leaving for the coast,... (full context)
Dignity of Work Theme Icon
Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
Carl asks whether Milly runs about over the country like Annie and Alexandra used to, and... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Dignity of Work Theme Icon
As Ivar drives the carriage up to the gate, Annie emerges from the house and Carl goes to help her down to the carriage. Lou lingers with Alexandra, asking her what... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 4
Power of the Land Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Alexandra feels that Carl has changed less than she expected. He still seems somewhat unconventional and uncomfortable. He looks... (full context)
Power of the Land Theme Icon
Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
Carl asks whether Emil will farm with Alexandra, and Alexandra declares that Emil will do whatever... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Alexandra tells Carl about Marie Tovesky, who has bought the Linstrums’ old place. Marie ran away from convent... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
Alexandra asks Carl why is so dissatisfied with himself, and Carl explains that he has nothing to look... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 5
Power of the Land Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...of days. She spends the days working on the farms and her evenings talking with Carl. On Wednesday morning, Carl rises early to walk to the crest of the hill where... (full context)
Power of the Land Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
Carl crosses over the fence and into the Shabatas’ pasture, toward the pond. He discovers, however,... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 6
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
After dinner that day, Alexandra puts on her white dress and sunhat, and she and Carl walk towards his former home on the old path. She tells him how nice it’s... (full context)
Power of the Land Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Carl and Alexandra admire the orchard Carl used to water, and Alexandra calls Marie, who comes... (full context)
Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
Pioneering and Immigration Theme Icon
Soon, Marie springs up and goes to fetch something to show Carl. She returns with a branch laden with apricots, which launches Alexandra into an anecdote about... (full context)
Power of the Land Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Marie exclaims that that is a good story, and goes on to describe Carl as she remembers him from when she was a child. She recalls a time when... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
Half an hour later, as Carl and Alexandra are leaving Marie, they meet Frank Shabata coming up the path. Marie runs... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 7
Power of the Land Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Dignity of Work Theme Icon
Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
...else he could do, and bought her the Linstrums’ old farm. At the time of Carl’s visit, the Shabatas had lived on the land for five years already, and Frank did... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 8
Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
The evening after Carl and Alexandra’s visit, Frank reads about their neighbors’ divorce, growing angry at the details about... (full context)
Power of the Land Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Pioneering and Immigration Theme Icon
...the fruit to drop into Marie’s lap. Marie then asks Emil what he thinks about Carl Linstrum, adding that she thinks Alexandra may be in love with him—an idea that makes... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 9
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
On a Sunday afternoon, a month after Carl’s arrival, he accompanies Emil to the French country to attend a Catholic fair. Some of... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 10
Power of the Land Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Dignity of Work Theme Icon
While Emil and Carl are away, Lou and Oscar pay Alexandra a visit. They approach very seriously, telling her... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Lou and Oscar say that Alexandra shouldn’t marry Carl, since she is only making a fool of herself at her age—forty years old. Alexandra... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 11
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...asks what they’re angry about. When she mentions that they are afraid she might marry Carl Linstrum, Emil brushes off the news as if it were ridiculous, which hurts Alexandra’s feelings.... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 12
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Dignity of Work Theme Icon
Carl enters the sitting room, looking tired and worn from his anger. He says that he... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
Pioneering and Immigration Theme Icon
Alexandra says that she has the feeling that if Carl goes away again, he will not come back. She believes that something will happen to... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 1
Power of the Land Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...receiving letters from Emil once a week. She has not seen her other brothers since Carl left and has started attending a different church in order to avoid them. (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...Mrs. Lee’s apron is beautiful, flattering her. She asks Alexandra whether she has heard from Carl, and Alexandra replies that he got to Dawson before the river froze, but she’ll likely... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 1
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...more than she could understand Marie. The day after Emil’s funeral, Alexandra had written to Carl, but she heard nothing in the following weeks as a response, and her heart grew... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 2
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
...life weighing on her. When she arrives at the hotel, there is a telegram from Carl waiting for her. He is in Hanover, and Alexandra bursts into tears upon receiving the... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 3
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Dignity of Work Theme Icon
The next afternoon, Carl and Alexandra are both in Hanover. They leave Mrs. Hiller’s after delivering a little present... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
Alexandra asks Carl whether he understands what happened between Emil and Marie. Carl explains that they probably tried... (full context)
Power of the Land Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Self-sacrifice vs. Temptation Theme Icon
Carl describes the day he saw Emil and Marie hunting ducks by the pond, and how... (full context)
Power of the Land Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Pioneering and Immigration Theme Icon
Alexandra tells Carl that she would like to accompany him to Alaska in the spring, but she will... (full context)