O Pioneers


  • Alexandra Bergson: the main character of the book. A strong-willed and intelligent woman. She was given the farm by her father John Bergson and over the next 16 years makes it very prosperous. Alexandra is not good at sensing the feelings of other people or herself – it takes her a long time to realize that she loves Carl Linstrum. She also misses Emil's growing attraction toward the unhappily married Marie Shabata. She also seems to forgive easily, as she claims to have no ill will against Frank, despite the fact he savagely murdered her brother. She is about 40 years old in the second part of the book.
  • Emil Bergson: the youngest child of John Bergson. An intelligent, handsome, and athletic person. A university graduate. Tragically, he is in love with the unhappily married Marie Shabata. He leaves for Mexico to try to escape his temptation for Marie, but after a year he cannot resist and returns. After reuniting at a church party they kiss for the first time. Before leaving for law school he goes to bid farewell to Marie and finds her in the orchard.Their longing for each other escalates and Frank Shabata, Marie's husband, drunkenly catches them in the act and shoots them both. He is mentally tormented by the crime and is jailed after turning himself in.
  • Crazy Ivar: lives in a remote plot of land in Nebraska that is difficult to get to, so nobody visits him. He is reported to be crazy, and makes hammocks. He reads the Swedish Bible and has a mystic quality about him. He also has a great affinity for animals, especially birds.
  • Carl: Alexandra's close childhood friend. As an adult, her suitor and husband.
  • Signa: the youngest of Alexandra's Swedish servants, her favorite.
  • Barney Flinn: Alexandra's foreman.
  • Mrs. Hiller: a neighbor.
  • Nelse Jensen: Signa's suitor, then husband.
  • Annie Lee: Lou's wife's maiden name.
  • Mrs. Lee: Lou's mother-in-law.
  • Milly: Annie's 15-year-old daughter. She plays the organ and the piano (which Alexandra bought for her).
  • Stella: Annie's younger daughter.
  • Marie Tovesky Shabata: Emil's unrequited love interest. A charming female neighbor who has known the Bergsons since childhood and is characterized as being simultaneously aloof and warm towards everyone without prejudice or favor, which infuriates her husband Frank, as well as Emil, who harbors romantic feelings for her despite her marriage to Frank.
  • Frank Shabata: Marie's husband. His character is a representation of anger and irrationality on the prairie. He kills his wife Marie and Emil in a drunken rage, and is sent to prison in Lincoln, Nebraska. He regrets doing what he did and he looks destroyed when Alexandra goes to visit him.
  • Albert Tovesky: Marie's father; an adviser in Omaha.
  • Amédée Chevalier: a Frenchman, friends with Emil. He dies from a ruptured appendix.
  • Angélique Chevalier: Amédée's wife.
  • Father Duchesne: the French priest.
  • Raoul Marcel: a good friend to Emil
  • Moses Marcel: Raoul's father.
  • Mr. Schwartz: the warden at the prison where Frank is being kept.

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