On the Divide
On the Nebraska prairie, Canute takes to drinking to forget his boredom after spending the first forty years of his life in Sweden. Lena takes to teasing him and going to church with him. One day, he asks her father if he can marry her and the father says no. He then proceeds to drag Lena to his house by force, drag a priest there by force too, and get him to marry them without the girl or the girl's father's consent. Later the priest leaves and Lena is left alone in Canute's shanty. She is scared of the rattlesnakes and the coyotes, but he stays outside, in the snow. As she opens the door he is sobbing.
- Canute Canuteson
- Jim Peterson
- Ole Yensen
- Mary Lee Yensen, Ole's wife.
- Lena Yensen, Ole and Mary's daughter.
- Anne Hermanson
Allusions to other works
Literary significance and criticism
On the Divide was Cather's first story to be published in a national magazine. In a 1938 letter to Edward Wagenknetch, Willa Cather admitted that On the Divide was retouched by one of her professors and submitted for publication without her consent.
- Willa Cather's Collected Short Fiction, University of Nebraska Press; Rev Ed edition, 1 November 1970, page 504
- James Woodress, Willa Cather: Her Life and Art, New York: Pegasus, 1970, p. 73
- Willa Cather's Collected Short Fiction, University of Nebraska Press; Rev Ed edition, 1 November 1970, 'Introduction' by Mildred R. Bennett, page xxvii
- Mildred Bennett, Early Stories of Willa Cather, New York: Dodd, Mead, 1957, p. 61
- Marilyn Arnold, Willa Cather's Short Fiction, Athens: Ohio University Press, 1984, p. 4