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Life [the prairie] held not; a magic ring lay on the horizon, extending upward into the sky; within this circle no living form could enter; it was like the chain enclosing the king's garden, that prevented it from bearing fruit. How could human beings continue to live here while that magic ring encompassed them? And those who were strong enough to break through were only being enticed still farther to their destruction.

This passage occurs in the chapter "What the Waving Grass Revealed" after Per removes the stakes that the Irish settlers had placed in the land earlier. As Beret increasingly feels the dread and loneliness of the empty prairie, she sinks into depression. Above all, she is afraid of the unknown. She continually scans the flat horizon of the Great Plains, seeing only the landscape and no other living thing. This passage strikes us by highlighting the loneliness the early pioneers endured and by revealing Beret's psychology. Above all else, Beret finds life on the prairie unbearable because her frail nature cannot endure the hard life of the pioneer. While the narrator concentrates on Per's indomitable optimism in the first few chapters of the novel, he gradually shifts his focus to concentrate on Beret's point of view. This passage occurs at a pivotal point in the story, when Per begins to diminish as the main character and Beret increasingly takes his place as the protagonist. The novel ceases to be only an action story, as it begins to increasingly probe the inner psychology of the characters—Beret is a more introspective individual than her husband.