Character Analysis Per Hansa


The male protagonist of this novel is the true pioneer, the man of action. To him, the prairie is something to be conquered by work, and more work. While he loves his wife and children, he is fundamentally interested in what he can do with the virgin soil of this new land, for the land-hunger of the European peasant is strong in him. He is a strong man, and he is above all an optimist who believes that so long as he labors hard enough in this new world, all things will come to his beloved family. He is also an inventive man — -the duck nets and the sod-house-barn combination are notable examples of his inventiveness. He is also a shrewd man, well suited to the frontier life, and except for the setbacks from nature, one who loves the life. We are not told too much about his past in Norway, but it is clear that at one time he was a fisherman in the Lofoten Islands. This fishing area, where cod and herring abound, is located above the Artic Circle, and the fishermen must perforce be a very hardy lot. Per Hansa and his best friend, Hans Olsa, are just that. And yet both of them are finally destroyed by the elements. In the words of Ernest Hemingway: "The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills." Per Hansa is one that will not break. The irony of his end is that he takes off on his last journey against his best judgment only to please his wife and best friend, and we can deduce that he feels the undertaking is hopeless. Per Hansa is overall an admirable character, although perhaps not one that a sensitive person would like; his final act is one of the highest heroism-and it is as always a physical one.

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