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Giants in the Earth: A Saga of the Prairie
Author O.E. Rölvaag
Type of work Novel
Genre Historical fiction; American epic; frontier novel; immigrant novel
Language Norwegian; translated into English by the author
Time and place written 1922–1923; Minnesota
Date of first publication 1924–:1925
Publisher H. Aschehoug and Co. (Norway); Harper and Brothers (U.S.)
Narrator Omniscient narrator
Point of View The omniscient third-person narrator reveals the thoughts and actions of the major characters of the novel, primarily focusing on the thoughts and actions of Per and Beret
Tone The narrator's attitude to the immigrants is sympathetic. At times, the narrator implies optimism, recording the hopes of the immigrants; at other times, the narrator implies pessimism, recording the fears of the immigrants and the threats unforeseeable to everyone except the omniscient narrator
Tense Immediate past
Setting (Time) 1873–1881
Setting (Place) Spring Creek, Dakota Territory (now South Dakota)
Protagonists Per and Beret Hansa
Major conflict Per thrives in his new environment in America, but Beret cannot adapt to the new country and feels homesick and depressed
Rising action Beret's pregnancy and her growing depression; the plague of locusts
Climax Possibly the moment when Per discovers the land stakes in Book I, or the locust attack in Book II, when Per discovers his wife's undeniable insanity
Falling action The arrival of the minister; the minister's sermon; Beret overhearing Per talk to Hans Olsa about how much he loves her
Themes The falseness of the American frontier myth; the cost of immigration; the struggle between humans and nature
Motifs Beret's homesickness; Scandinavian folklore; the Israelites of the Old Testament
Symbols Beret's emigrant chest; Peder Victorious; the West
Foreshadowing The discovery of the Indian grave; Per's discovering of the stakes belonging to Irish settlers; the narrator's frequent reports of the power of the landscape and nature, such as in the very first chapter and the very last chapter; Beret's need to cover her windows to shut out the prairie
Ace your assignments with our guide to Giants in the Earth!