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Giants in the Earth

Book II, Chapter I—"On the Border of Utter Darkness"

Summary Book II, Chapter I—"On the Border of Utter Darkness"

This chapter also examines the increasing Americanization of the Norwegian immigrants. They learn English and, more significant, decide to adopt American last names. Beret is the only one who is not happy about changing her name, as she considers changing one's name a sacrilege and a renunciation of one's heritage. Changing one's name is like changing one's identity, and Beret believes in the sacredness of tradition and roots. Throughout the novel, Rölvaag examines how the immigrants relinquish their very selves to become Americans. During his life, Rölvaag wanted ethnic groups to preserve their heritage, and he thought of himself as a Norwegian-American. In fact, he made a profession teaching Norwegian language, literature, and history as a professor in Minnesota. Rölvaag treats Beret with sympathy because she too wants to retain her cultural roots.