In many instances Alexandra is shown to be more able to survive than any other character in O Pioneers!. In Alexandra's long fight to survive and succeed, O Pioneers! relates a very important chapter in the history of the American frontier, but more importantly the thought that women could achieve just as much as men. That is why Willa Cather's O Pioneers! is the story of Alexandra Bergson who could be considered the forerunner for the women's rights movement of the 20th century.
In the early chapters of the book, Willa Cather portrays Alexandra as a strong-minded young woman of the early 20th century. She can do almost anything better than her brothers, Lou and Oscar: "Ã¢ÂÂ¦She will do the bestÃ¢ÂÂ¦" (10). At a young age, Alexandra's father leaves her with the land because her two brothers are not fit to own land at their immature time in life: "Alexandra, you will have to do the best you can with your brothers" (10).
The immense difference between Lou, Oscar and Alexandra is Lou and Oscar just do what is told and Alexandra does what she thinks is best.
Another aspect of Alexandra's that can be looked at is her ability to not care what other people thought, especially when it comes to Crazy Ivar. Everyone in Alexandra's little town thinks of Ivar as a freak, even her own family: "Whoever heard of him talking sense, anyway" (14). A reason they are afraid of Ivar is he is very different from the rest of the town, but Alexandra does not care. When an old lady kicks Ivar off his land Alexandra is the only person that even thought about letting him live with her. An additional instance is with Frank Shabata when he kills Emil Bergson and Marie Shabata. Alexandra is not angry with Frank but blames Emil and Maria for being near the mulberry tree together: "I hope you'll let me be friendly with you. I understand how you did it. I don't feel hard towards you. They were more to blame than you" (116). She is mad at herself for no being there to stop the killing from happening.
The final reason that Alexandra is a forerunner for the women's rights movement of the 20th century is because she is a visionary and she is also an independent woman. Like her feelings towards people, she always has a vision of the land, one day, being the most beautiful thing: "Someday the land itself will be worth more than all we can ever raise on it" (23). When her brothers both told her that they should sell their land and buy land down near the river, she kept thinking that it would someday do good. Alexandra is also the kind that never thought that people owned the land, but that the land, in a way, owned the people. The land constantly controlled the way that she and other characters felt during the book. Alexandra is also very independent in the way that she never asks for help from anyone. She does not really care about much outside the family and the land. That is why she never cares about her house, because that never told people what she was about: "If you ever go up the hill and enter Alexandra's big house, you will find that it is curiously unfinished and uneven in comfort" (32). Alexandra's land is the thing that everyone always would think about.
Though Alexandra Bergson is a fictional character, she can still be thought of as a woman that all women wanted to be like in the early 20th century. Though Willa Cather wrote this book seven years before women received the right to vote, Alexandra can still definitely be considered a forerunner for the women's right movement of the 20th century.