A little boy of about five years old when the novel begins, Emil is of Swedish descent, and lives with his family in Hanover, Nebraska.
Emil's sister, tall and strong, her appearance does not reveal the tremendous hardships they suffer under. Her hair, reddish-blond curls, is very beautiful.
Carl Linstrum is an older boy, a relatively close neighbor of Alexandra's family. He is artistic, generous and kind, though not very well spoken.
A little bohemian girl about Emil's age, she is the beloved niece of Joe Tovesky and has come from the city with her mother to visit him.
A Bohemian man who lives in the area, he has many sons but no daughters and dotes on his niece Marie.
One of Alexandra and Emil's brothers
One of Emil and Alexandra's brothers.
Father of Alexandra, Emil, Lou and Oscar, John Bergson is very ill and he doesn't know how his family will survive if he dies. The son of a shipbuilder whose mother had died young and whose step-mother had squandered their fortune, John had come west eleven years before and now has little but land to show for it.
An older Norwegian man, Ivar goes barefoot and does his best to protect and care for animals, especially horses, cows and birds. Some people, like Alexandra, think him very wise about nature, but many also think him strange and possibly even dangerous.
One of the richest men in the area, Charley Fuller made a lot of money in real estate, and during the period of drought he attempts to buy up as much of the Divide as possible.
John Bergon's wife, Mrs. Bergson misses her childhood home very much and does her best to replicate it on the frontier. Many of her neighbors think her stuck-up, because she goes to such lengths to live a civilized life in the wilderness.
The youngest of the three Swedish girls who work for Alexandra.
One of the men who work for Alexandra, Nelse may or may not be courting Signa.
Frank Shabatas, Marie's husband.
Emil's best friend since childhood, a very talented pitcher, Amedee marries Angelique.
Amedee's new bride
A woman whose farm adjoins the Shabatas', her pigs sometimes escape into their fields, because she has only a lame son to help her.
Mrs. Hiller's son
A hired boy who worked at the Shabata's for one year. Frank fired him, because he was jealous of Marie's kindness to him, but Marie hoped that Signa and Smirka would be married.
A friend of Emil's, Raoul is a very talented singer.
The young priest of the French Church.
The prison warden, Mr. Schwartz is German and used to be a harness maker.
A prisoner at the penitentiary.
One of Alexandra's workmen, an Irishman, Flinn functions as Alexandra's foreman, though he has no such title.
O Pioneers Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for O Pioneers is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
The houses on the Divide were small and were usually tucked away in low places; you did not see them until you came directly upon them. Most of them were built of the sod itself, and were only the unescapable ground in another form....