High Prairie. Dutch farming community southwest of Chicago where Ferber’s protagonist, Selina Peake, goes to teach in a primitive one-room schoolhouse after her gambler father is shot to death. There she lives with a farming family named Pool and experiences an environment as different from that of her life with her peripatetic father as the fine finishing school she attended in Chicago is different from the tiny schoolhouse in which she teaches. Selina’s school opens its sessions in November after the fall harvest. During the cold winters, students huddle at their pine desks, arranged close to the school’s pot-bellied stove. They write their assignments in chalk on slates, bring their own lunches, drink water from the well, and use the privy outside.
At the town’s Dutch Reformed Church, sunlight penetrating the red and yellow windows makes the faces of the solemn Calvinist worshipers look jaundiced. For recreation, families attend a dance and box supper held upstairs at Adam Oom’s general store.
Pool farm. Home of the Pool family, with whom Selina lives while beginning her teaching job in High Prairie. Thrifty, hard-working farmers, the Pools raise hogs and cabbages. The Pools’ life, she finds, is not a game but an unending job in which they devote every possible minute to making their livelihood from the soil: plowing and reaping, repairing farm tools, cooking, and...
(The entire section is 535 words.)