How would one compare oneself to Alexandra Bergson of O Pioneers?

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tmcquade eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The best way for a person to compare himself/herself to Alexandra Bergsen is to look at her various character traits.  Choose a few primary traits to focus on - especially those that make for great points of comparison or contrast.  Make each body paragraph focus on a different trait - discussing how Alexandra demonstrates this trait, and how the person being compared does or does not.  A comparison might also mention a trait she does NOT have that the other does.  

Alexandra is a very strong, determined woman, hard-working woman.  When her father chooses her to be in charge of his farm after he dies instead of her brothers, he shows that he trusts her work ethic and business sense, and he knows she will make good decisions for the family.  She is determined to prove him right and to make theirs one of the most successful farms around, which she does through a combination of hard work, intelligence, foresight, and risk-taking.

Her intelligence, foresight, and risk-taking reveal themselves in the way she approaches "growing" their farm.  At a time when many others are giving up on their farms and moving to the cities, she digs in and insists they keep their farm; she even recommends they buy up more property.  While her brothers resist this at first, protesting that they cannot possibly work so much land, she points out they won't have to - they just have to "sit on it" until the land goes up in price, then they can sell it. This is what they eventually do.

Also in doing her research, she talks to other nearby farmers, showing her wisdom in how she approaches problem-solving and gathering advice.  As a result, she learns what does and does not grow well, and she makes a decision to plant something no one else around her has done: alfalfa.  This also shows her risk-taking ability, and her efforts pay off.

Alexandra is also very kind and compassionate, as well as loving to those she cares about (especially her brother Emil).  She works hard so he can go away to college, she makes sure he has all he needs, and she grieves deeply when he is killed.

She is also very open-minded and tolerant.  She is not a person bent on vengeance, even reaching out to Marie's husband, who killed her brother, and is in jail.  And she willingly accepts the differences and eccentricities of those around her.  Her old hired hand, Ivar, recognizes this in her when he says:

"You believe that everyone should worship God in the way revealed to him. But that is not the way of this country. The way here is for all to do alike... Here, if a man is different in his feet or in his head, they put him in the asylum.”

Finally, Alexandra is very connected to the land.  She does not merely see it as something she can profit from; instead, it is something she loves and nurtures, almost in a maternal manner.  She does not want to build an empire; she wants to build a community: 

“She always loved to watch (the stars), to think of their vastness and distance, and of their ordered march... That night she had a new consciousness of the country, felt almost a new relation to it... She had never known before how much the country meant to her... Under the long shaggy ridges, she felt the future stirring.”

In many ways, she is a woman to emulate - a woman who went against the time in its expectations of women and proved herself a pioneer in the truest sense.