Day 4

O Pioneers Lesson Plan

Discussion of Thought Questions

  1. 1

    What is the symbolism of the white mulberry tree? What is Cather alluding to with this tree?

    Students may have to do some additional research to understand the allusions here.

    The tree and its orchard are spaces of comfort and reflection for the characters during much of the book. The tree is also at the center of Emil and Marie's double murder. The species is not native to Nebraska: it is an immigrant like the characters. Mulberry trees turn from white to a deep red; this one is white, but is then stained red with the blood of the lovers. Its defiling is a symbol of the loss of innocence, both of the young lovers and of Alexandra, who comes undone after the shooting....

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