Alexandra of O Pioneers – English Essay
Although Alexandra is portrayed as the physical hero in Willa Cather’s O Pioneers, Emil seems to represent a more compassionate connection with the reader through his troublesome, heart wrenching relationship with Marie
Shabata. Throughout this passage, the language strongly portrays the longing for something that seems unattainable and the rationalization of how life must continue. Ms. Cather uses her lyrical syntax to depict how Marie’s mental self torture, as a method of relinquishing her lust from Emil, transforms into a solemn burden of helplessness.
Mental torment lingers in the air each time the two passionate human beings became close enough to feel each others presence. Consequently, Marie has not once ceased her thoughts of the rational future her mind longs for, and the passionate physical love that remains constantly throbbing within her heart. This unattainable craving is depicted while traveling, “her face lifted toward the remote, inaccessible evening star.” Not only is it palpably apparent that the evening star symbolizes Emil’s love, but the leading light is positioned almost perfectly over the Bergson’s barn. The universes’ “space” is a destination that lies in the minds of almost all children as a vast infinity of pure joy that is absolutely unreachable. Similarly, the longing to reach this inaccessible target represents brewing love that she simply cannot repress. Regarding the same mind-set, Cather portrays the imagery, “always the same yearning, the same pulling at the chain—until the instinct to live had torn itself and bled and weakened for the last time, until the chain secured a dead woman, who might cautiously be released.” Marie recognizes her longing for Emil’s passion, but not yet as an emotion to which nothing can be accomplished in order to bring about its conclusion. She persists in this self-torture of the mind in an attempt to gruesomely force out this evil yearning, concealed deep within her soul. The agonizing motions never seem to cease until every ounce of the striving for independence slowly vacates her now listless fissure she refers to as a body, and only then she may be released, with much caution, back into the law bound world.
It soon becomes apparent to Marie that these devilish yearnings are what defines one as a human being, and cannot be so easily removed with a mere flick of the mind. Upon this revelation, her mind begins to wander, believing she could sustain a carefree life, while carrying out the true passions of her heart only with intangible dreams. The wretched thoughts of this credence continue, “She felt as the pond must feel when it held the moon like that; when it encircled and swelled with that image of gold.” These once love-felt yearnings of the soul seem to be transforming into heavy burdens with no remedy. The pond seems to be intruded upon when the cumbersome moon barges in upon its once so simple life. Similarly, Marie believes her life married to Frank was straightforward and effortless prior to the intrusion of this passionate lust. However, to the on looking eye, this brilliant image of a golden gem, glistening and dancing in the pond’s tiny ripples seems enchanting and almost utopian. The question could be proposed: why does not Marie simply run from this painful marriage, and take pleasure in the life only thought possible in her dreams? To Marie, this seems the childish, effortless method to solve her predicament. She recognizes her own fault in making the decisions she did and vows to live them out in their entirety, even if it entails never fulfilling the passionate drive that constantly dwells beneath her.