Literature Study GuidesO PioneersPart 2 Chapters 7 9 Summary

O Pioneers! | Study Guide

Willa Cather

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O Pioneers! | Part 2, Chapters 7–9 | Summary

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Summary

Part 2, Chapter 7

The narrator explains how Frank Shabata and Marie Shabata (formerly Marie Tovesky) met and fell in love. When Marie was 16 and still in high school in Omaha, Frank moved there and began courting a few of the local Bohemian girls, but he seemed to favor Marie. Sometime later, after spending a day with Frank on a rowboat, Marie came home and told her father, Albert Tovesky, she was engaged to Frank Shabata. Her father, who was against the marriage, sent her to live in a convent in St. Louis. This action made Frank more determined to have Marie for his wife. As soon as she turned 18, Marie ran away from the convent with Frank and married him. Her father relented and bought them the Linstrums' old farm. Frank turned out to be a good worker, and the place prospered. This happened five years before the day Alexandra Bergson and Carl Linstrum came to visit.

Part 2, Chapter 8

Frank Shabata becomes irritable while reading the Sunday paper and then goes out. Marie Shabata hears Emil Bergson mowing in the orchard and goes to pick cherries. They talk, and Marie hints that Alexandra Bergson might be in love with Carl Linstrum. Emil laughs this off as improbable. Emil and Marie get into a quarrel because of Emil's feelings for Marie, which Marie doesn't want to acknowledge because she doesn't want her relationship with Emil to change. Emil tells her their friendship is basically over, and Marie walks back to the house crying.

Part 2, Chapter 9

Emil Bergson's best friend, Amedee Chevalier, teases Emil about not having a girlfriend, and he says nothing about Marie Shabata. Instead, Emil teases his friend Amedee's new bride, Angelique Chevalier, kissing her on the mouth, scooping her up and running with her in his arms. Marie sees these antics and gives Emil an angry look.

Analysis

The story of Frank Shabata and Marie Shabata's marriage illuminates the nature of their relationship. It seems that Frank probably married Marie more because he was told he couldn't have her than because of any deep or genuine love for her. Also, as the novel progresses, Frank's character will be shown to be incapable of being happy and loving. It is simply not in him to be kind or adoring. Marie seems to have a good attitude about her situation with Frank, which also suggests she is genuinely in love with him.

In her conversation and subsequent argument with Emil Bergson, Marie Shabata hints that she also has feelings for him. For Marie, who is Catholic and a woman of the late 1800s, divorce or infidelity is not a possibility. Although she cannot help but be attracted to Emil, unlike Emil, she is not willing to acknowledge those feelings at the expense of their friendship. This is the issue at the heart of their fight—Emil wants to acknowledge his feelings for Marie even though he knows they cannot be together, and Marie loves Emil, so she keeps her feelings suppressed in an effort to at least maintain a friendship with him.

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