Western Short Story Review Willa Cather On The Divide

Photo taken by me – my book cases
Preston, England
January 25, 2017 5:40am CST
1896 - Spoiler alerts Many great Westerns have been written by women including Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind and Anne Prouix’s Brokeback Mountain. Cather’s On The Divide belongs right up there with them. Her capture of the desolation and isolation of the vast Nebraskan plains really makes this story of early settlers. The main protagonist is a literally larger than life figure, Canute, a Norwegian seven foot tall giant of a man, living in a self built log cabin, missing the hectic days of heavily populated lands with heavier populations. He drowns his despair in industrial alcohol, having consumed so much whisky as to be virtually immune to it. He contemplates but never commits suicide. Then the neighbours arrive, so he has drinking buddies, but he never speaks or shares. He starts a relationship with a girl called Lena, who cruelly insults him and flirts other men under his nose until he finally snaps. Instead of killing her he kidnaps her and a preacher, forcing her into an illegal marriage. Just as she accepts his passion and actually warms to his needs for her, he falls to pieces emotionally and has no idea what to do with his new life at all. The abrupt sense of a man with nowhere to go is captured more brutally than having anyone go down in a blaze of gunfire. This is a story about overpopulation even with essentially just two people ruining one another’s lives just by being there. Brilliant yet bleak writing, in a romance stripped of all hope of love and happy endings. Arthur Chappell
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@JohnRoberts (67002)
• Los Angeles, California
25 Jan 17
Don't forget Cather's O Pioneers! which began her great plains trilogy.
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• Preston, England
25 Jan 17
That is her best known work and reading this one makes me want to read that too
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