While Emil and Carl are away, Lou and Oscar pay Alexandra a visit. They approach very seriously, telling her that people are talking about her and Carl. Alexandra tells her brothers that they can’t advise her on this sort of subject, and her brothers respond indignantly that she is making fools of the family. They worry that Carl is a tramp who is coming to claim the family land and fortune by marrying into it.
Lou and Carl intervene in Alexandra’s personal affairs because they are concerned with the fate of the family land. They liken Carl to a tramp because he hasn’t worked for the land and therefore lacks the dignity of work. They believe he shouldn’t be able to marry into their family land and fortune. Mostly, though, they’ll just say what they have to in order to preserve their inheritance for wealth that they, too, had little hand in creating. They demand that their sister, who has sacrificed so much, continue to sacrifice for them.
Lou and Oscar argue that the land rightly belongs to the men of the family, since they’re the ones who must do the most work and are held responsible when things go wrong. Alexandra reminds them, however, that they would have sold the land long ago if it weren’t for her advice. Lou and Oscar tell her that she was always so hard on them, even while she babied Emil. Alexandra responds that she has had to grow hard, like a vine that’s continuously cut back.
Lou and Oscar argue that the land belongs to the men because they’re the ones who work the hardest—only Alexandra knows that the land cannot truly be owned. She reminds them that she has sacrificed as well. She has had to grow hard and lose her youth working the harsh land so that the family could benefit. Her pioneering spirit pushed her to delay her own gratification in order to send Emil to college.
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 tells them that the only hold they have on her decisions from now on will be legal and sends her brothers on their way. Lou and Oscar hope that they have talked some sense into her.
As Alexandra stands up for Carl, she severs ties with Lou and Oscar completely. They haven’t been close companions to her since they were children, and the distance growing between them has finally hardened.