On the Divide

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

On the Divide is a short story by Willa Cather. It was first published in Overland Monthly in January 1896.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

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.

Characters[edit]

  • Canute Canuteson
  • Jim Peterson
  • Ole Yensen
  • Mary Lee Yensen, Ole's wife.
  • Lena Yensen, Ole and Mary's daughter.
  • Anne Hermanson
  • Sorenson

Allusions to other works[edit]

Literary significance and criticism[edit]

On the Divide was Cather's first story to be published in a national magazine.[2] 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.[3]

The story bears similarities with O Pioneers!.[4] Moreover, it has been noted that Cather's spare style parallels the harshness of the landscape.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Willa Cather's Collected Short Fiction, University of Nebraska Press; Rev Ed edition, 1 November 1970, page 504
  2. ^ James Woodress, Willa Cather: Her Life and Art, New York: Pegasus, 1970, p. 73
  3. ^ Willa Cather's Collected Short Fiction, University of Nebraska Press; Rev Ed edition, 1 November 1970, 'Introduction' by Mildred R. Bennett, page xxvii
  4. ^ Mildred Bennett, Early Stories of Willa Cather, New York: Dodd, Mead, 1957, p. 61
  5. ^ Marilyn Arnold, Willa Cather's Short Fiction, Athens: Ohio University Press, 1984, p. 4

External links[edit]