Women in isolation: Women on the American frontier in selected works of non-fiction, fiction, and narrative
During the 1840s, 1850s, and 1860s Americans migrated westward across the continent by the tens of thousands. Women detailed their experiences on the overland trails in diaries, journals, and letters. This type of non-fiction work provides information regarding the pioneer women who settled on the Great Plains and in the Far West.
Willa Cather's My Antonia, a work of fiction, parallels Cather's life growing up in Nebraska in the late 1800s. The characters in My Antonia, early settlers on the Plains, find themselves isolated in many aspects: from their country and its culture, from family, from neighbors, from community, and from a home. The women, often thought to be the moral foundation of the family and, thus, of society, feel the brunt of the isolation; they often must carry on alone.
A Son of the Middle Border and A Daughter of the Middle Border, two of Hamlin Garland's narrative works—these about his mother—consider the isolation and loneliness of being a farmer's wife on the desolate Iowa and Dakota prairies during the mid- to late 1800s. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)