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Adjusting to an entirely new home can be emotionally exhausting for any person, The psychological effects, both positive and negative, are exemplified in the story Giants in the Earth by Ole Edvart Rolvaag, a Norwegian author who focuses on the immigration into America from Norway. In the book, the character Beret Hansa is the wife and mother in the Hansa family who moved to the Dakota Territories. The difficulty Beret faced throughout the novel was linked to her transition into the new land and the emotional roller coaster she went through once the Minister arrived, challenging her beliefs and giving her a new route to potential happiness in order to distract her from the reality that had swallowed her whole.
There are a few major elements in the book that were connected to Beret‘s mental spirals, Her reactions to the new setting and her lack of honesty with Per, the contrast between hers and Per’s feelings, and the Minister’s guidance were all contributing factors to the rough time she experienced Every event that took place played in a role in her altered state of mind.
The idea of arrival in the new land caused Beret to immediately be overcome with nerves and homesickness. One of the causes of Beret‘s incoming depression was her unwillingness to open up to Per about her thoughts, leading to the moment when “suddenly she could stand it no longer. She ran over to him, flung her arms around his neck, and leaned close against him The dam of her pent-up tears broke in a flood of emotion; she wept long and bitterly“.
This quotation shows Beret already beginning to crack mentallyr When the news that Beret was pregnant with her fourth child arrived, Per knew that this would affect his wife by thinking “Beret was going to have a baby again. Only a blessing, of course-but what a lot of their time it would take up”. Although Per had faith in his wife, he still worried for her. From her pregnancy, she became more and more distant, and continued to shut out Per about her struggles with “so many fearful fancies—-fancies that multiplied as time went on; though she felt unable to speak to him about it,“ in fear of that he would not be able to understand, Per Hansa had a very different personality and perspective towards life than his wife Beret. Optimism was a trait that was prominent in Per, which contrasted with the pessimism and sadness that overtook Beret in the story The obvious differences contribute to Beret’s depression in the way that Per is constantly trying to cheer her up, without success.
He couldn‘t help but view their arrival in the new land as a new opportunity, whereas Beret was unhappy and tried to look for comfort in the new land but couldn’t find it “The broad expanse stretching away endlessly in every direction, seemed almost like the ocean-especially now, when darkness was falling, It reminded her strongly of the sea, and yet it was very different. This formless prairie had no heart that beat, no waves that sang, no soul that could be touched,” she attempted to find the positives but her instinctual sadness caused her to only see the bad. When the minister made his way to the Dakota Territories, the people there were pleased. Kjerstj and Tonseten saw his arrival as an opportunity to help Beret through her turmoil. Once the minister met Beret and Per, he spoke alone with Per, discussing Beret‘s difficulties The minister came to the conclusion that ”perhaps the Lord will allow me to reach her mind with a clarifying idea,” which gave Per hope. When the minister suggested to Beret that they should perform services in the l-lansa home “her cheeks were flushed,” implying she felt an emotion she perhaps hadn’t in a while, The religiosity that was then being offered to her gave her a feeling that might be able have been able to replace the sadness in her heart. The different events that took place in the book affected Beret immensely, though it wasn‘t extremely apparent because she was such a passive character. Rolvaag captures the difficulties of immigration beautifully in this story by featuring Beret’s emotions and thoughts throughout the story. Even with all the goodness that took place in the book, the perspective of Beret could never be altered completely because of her depression, which is something seen throughout life everyday.
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