Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Peder Holm lives in three rooms. In one, he lives everything in English; here there is a magic touch. In the second, where he lives everything in Norwegian, things are more difficult. In the third room, only he and God are allowed. Before he was born, his mother had dedicated him to God, and God had become a very real person to the boy.
As Peder grows up, however, he is not always sure that God is the kind of being that his mother and the minister, Mr. Gabrielsen, talk about. Peder has been taught that God is love, and yet God is blamed for the death of Per Hansa, his father, the destruction of the crops, and the bleakness of the land. To Peder, such calamities cannot be reconciled with his God of love; he reads his Bible assiduously in an attempt to straighten out his thoughts.
Mr. Gabrielsen is sure that once Peder goes to seminary, he will be the right person to minister to the Norwegian settlement. The preacher expects English to supplant Norwegian as the common language there in the next twenty years, and Peder’s English is fluent, though still tinged with an accent.
The whole community is in a fever of change. After a long argument in church about disciplining a girl whose shame has caused her to hang herself, one group breaks away and establishes a second church. There are two schools, one strictly Norwegian and one taught in English, to which the Irish come as well. An imminent community problem is the division of the...
(The entire section is 1074 words.)
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