- O Pioneers! is a 1913 novel by American author Willa Cather. The book is number 83 on the American Library Association's list of most frequently banned or challenged books. O Pioneers! tells the story of the Bergsons, a family of Swedish immigrants in the farm country near the fictional town of Hanover, Nebraska, at the turn of the 20th century. The main character, Alexandra Bergson, inherits the family farmland when her father dies, and she devotes her life to making the farm a viable enterprise at a time when other immigrant families are giving up and leaving the prairie. The novel is also concerned with two romantic relationships, one between Alexandra and family friend Carl Linstrum and another between Alexandra's brother Emil and the married Marie Shabata. The book is divided into five parts, each of which has numerous chapters. Part I - The Wild Land - On a windy day in Hanover, Nebraska, Alexandra Bergson is with her five-year-old brother Emil. Emil's little kitten has climbed a telegraph pole and is afraid to come down. Alexandra finds her neighbor and friend Carl Linstrum, who retrieves the kitten. Alexandra's father is dying, and he wishes that she run the farm after he is gone. After visiting villages downwards to see how they are getting on, she talks her brothers Oscar and Lou into mortgaging the farm to buy more land, in hopes of ending up as rich landowners. Part II - Neighboring Fields - Sixteen years later, the farms are now prosperous. Alexandra and her brothers have divided up their inheritance, and Emil has just returned from college. The Linstrum farm has failed, and Marie, now married to Frank Shabata, has bought it. During a Bergson family get-together, Carl Linstrum shows up, having failed in a job in Chicago. He is on his way to Alaska, but decides to stay with Alexandra for a while. There is a growing flirtatious relationship between Emil and Marie, which Carl notices. Lou and Oscar suspect that Carl wants to marry Alexandra, and are resentful that they had to work hard for their farms, but he thinks he can marry into a farm. Then Carl, recognizing a problem, decides to leave for Alaska. Part III - Winter Memories - Alexandra spends the winter alone, except for occasional visits from Marie, whom she visits with Mrs. Lee. She also begins to have mysterious dreams. Part IV - The White Mulberry Tree - Emil returns from Mexico City. His best friend, Amédée, is now married with a young son. At a fair at the French church, Emil and Marie kiss for the first time. They later confess their illicit love, and Emil determines to leave for law school in Michigan. Before he leaves Amédée dies from a ruptured appendix, and as a result both he and Marie realize what they value most. Before leaving he stops by Marie's farm to say one last goodbye, and they fall into a passionate embrace beneath the white mulberry tree. They stay there for several hours, until Marie's husband, Frank, finds them, and shoots them. He goes off to Omaha. Ivar discovers Emil's abandoned horse, leading him to search for the boy and discover the bodies. Part V - Alexandra - Alexandra has gone off in a rainstorm. Ivar goes looking for her and brings her back home, where she sleeps fitfully and dreams about death. While in town she walks by Emil's university campus, comes upon a polite young man, and feels better. She then receives a telegram from Carl, saying he is back. They decide to marry, unconcerned with her brothers' approval.