Willa Cather published "O Pioneers!" in 1913 at the age of 40. Together with "My Antonia," "O Pioneers!" is the novel for which Cather is best known. The story in "O Pioneers!" takes place on the plains of Nebraska in the late 19th century. During that time, the prairie was settled by Swedish, Bohemian, and French immigrants trying to eke out a living from a harsh and often inhospitable land. The heroine of "O Pioneers!" is Alexandra Bergson, who inherits her father's farm as a young woman, raises his three sons and stays with the farm through the harsh times to become a successful landowner and farmer. "O Pioneers!" speaks of being wedded to the land and to place. In this sense it is an instance of the American dream of a home. It speaks of a strong woman, and is a story as well of thwarted love, of the difficult nature of sexuality, and of human passion. There is also the beginning of what in Cather's works will become an increased sense of religion, Catholicism in particular, as a haven and a solace for the sorrow she finds at the heart of human endeavor. Above all it is a picture of stark life in the Midwest. There is almost as much blood-letting in "O Pioneers!" as in an Elizabethan tragedy. Willa Cather's picture of American life on the plains, even in her earliest books, is not an easy or simple one. Though some readers may quarrel with the seemingly happy ending of the book, none will deny that Alexandra's happiness is both bittersweet and dearly bought. Overall, "O Pioneers!" is a thoughtful, well written story of immigrant life on the plains and of the sorrow pain, and strength of the American experience.