When the Cather family left their country farm and moved into the small town of Red Cloud, Nebraska, in , Mary Miner, the second Miner daughter, brought Willa a bottle of perfume, nestled in a red plush slipper. The road to Red Cloud passed near the Sadilek dugout, and one of Willa's favorite pastimes was visiting her immigrant neighbors. The Sadileks left their village of Mzizovic, Bohemia, in October There was only one other Bohemian family on their ship, the rest were Polish, and they landed in America on November 5. Francis Sadilek had received letters from America that told of the country's beauty and prosperity, and he wanted his family to have a better life.
If there was a road, I could not make it out in the faint starlight. This could be said of the character Jim Burden, but certainly not of the author Willa Cather. Obligations to farm work severely limit the potential of its less fortunate peoples. Shimerda and a wandering homeless man are driven to suicide. Pavel dies of illness, and Peter is evicted, forced to mortgage his beloved milk cow, which symbolizes American opportunity lost.
For this reason, the body of the novel came easily for her. The introduction, however, was difficult to write, and she was never satisfied with it. In the original introduction, written for the edition, the female narrator possibly Cather herself and Jim Burden meet on a train west of Chicago. He's a lawyer for a major railroad company, and she is a writer.
In the mids, not long after I had moved from New York City to Lemmon, South Dakota, I attended a 90th birthday party for a woman who had been one of the original homesteaders in the area, having immigrated from Sweden with her parents in The Lutheran church basement was decorated with crepe-paper streamers, and one table held family photographs — color snapshots of the great-grandchildren, wedding photographs from the s, daguerreotypes of stern-faced ancestors in the Old Country. Some died so young.