Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Dakota Territory

*Dakota Territory. During the 1880’s—the period during which the novel opens—Dakota Territory flourished. The grasshopper plagues had ended, and the land again produced bumper crops. Attracted by prosperity, new settlers swarmed in, with the steady westward expansion of the railroads speeding their access. Heading westward from Chicago and St. Paul, railroads linked the Dakotas with markets on both coasts, increasing the wealth of the region. The population of the territory expanded so fast that the territory’s growth set off debates in the mid-1880’s, dramatically presented in the second section of Peder Victorious, over whether to divide the territory into two states. On November 2, 1889, shortly before Peder’s sixteenth birthday, North Dakota and South Dakota were admitted to the Union together.

Spring Creek

Spring Creek. Town in South Dakota, situated near the state’s border with Minnesota. As Giants in the Earth ended, a railroad neared Spring Creek on its way to Sioux Falls; O. E. Rölvaag never states whether the railroad builds a station at his fictional settlement; however, Spring Creek clearly shares the prosperity and population growth of the 1880’s. Frame houses replace sod huts, farmers build elaborate barns, and newcomers settle all the available land. The entire action of Peder Victorious takes place in Spring Creek, especially in its churches and schools.

The town’s...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Haugen, Einar. Ole Edvart Rölvaag. Boston: Twayne, 1983. A detailed discussion of all Rölvaag’s works from a Norwegian American perspective. Haugen, a former student of Rölvaag, is an expert on Norwegian American dialects, and he has studied Rölvaag’s writing in the original Norwegian as well as the English translations.

Moseley, Ann. Ole Edvart Rölvaag. Boise, Idaho: Boise State University, 1987. A brief, general introduction to Rölvaag’s life and writings. Focuses on the importance of Rölvaag’s work to the general student of American literature. Includes a useful bibliography.

Paulson, Kristoffer F. “Rölvaag as Prophet: The Tragedy of Americanization.” In Ole Rölvaag: Artist and Cultural Leader, edited by Gerald Thorson. Northfield, Minn.: St. Olaf College Press, 1975. Discusses the physical and spiritual dangers that Rölvaag saw confronting immigrants.

Reigstad, Paul. Rölvaag: His Life and Art. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1972. An extensive discussion of Rölvaag’s novels. Emphasizes the artistic merits of Rölvaag’s work, rather than the social history aspects.

Simonson, Harold P. Prairies Within: The Tragic Trilogy of Ole Rölvaag. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1987. Emphasizes Beret’s role in all three novels of Rölvaag’s trilogy of the Holm family. Argues that Beret is Rölvaag’s most important character and the one who best represents his views.