Yuri Yokota

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department / School


First Advisor

Charles L. Woodard


Willa Sylbert Cather was born in December 7, 1873, in Winchester, Virginia, and Pearl Sydenstricker Buck was born in Hillsboro in the adjoining state of West Virginia nearly nineteen years later, on June 26, 1892. When they were sensitive young girls, both of them were exposed to "foreign” cultures, which were quite different from their original Victorian cultures of the East. Willa and her family moved to the Nebraska frontier when Willa was eight years old. In the Nebraska prairies of the late nineteenth century, there were many foreign immigrants who had come to settle: Swedes, Norwegians, Russians, French, Germans and Bohemians were among them. Willa grew up there among those foreign immigrants. She left home to go to college at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln at the age of eighteen. Pearl was taken to China by her missionary parents when she was four months old. Except for a one-year stay in native West Virginia when she was ten, she was raised in Chinkiang, a port city on the Yangtze River, where she learned the Chinese language and customs. At the age of seventeen, she went back to her native country a second time to attend Randolph Macon College in Virginia. These sensitive intelligent girls observed peoples around them with keen intent eyes and enjoyed listening to their stories with deep curiosity. Cather recalled: "I have never found any intellectual excitement any more intense than I used to feel when I spent a morning with one of those old women at her baking or butter-making. I used to ride home in the most unreasonable state of excitement.” Buck did not have freedom to roam around in her neighborhood as did Cather, but she had a Chinese nurse who could tell her not only her own childhood memories, such as accounts of famine and robbery, but also Buddhist and Taoist stories. Pearl was "immensely fascinated by those Chinese tales." The vivid impression of those storytellers lives and stories were deeply engraved on the sensitive hearts of the two young girls and became the basic force of their literary imaginations. Cather herself mentioned their strong influences: The ideas for all my novels have come from things that happened around Red Cloud when I was a child.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Buck, Pearl S. (Pearl Sydensticker), 1892-1973 -- Criticism and interpretation

Cather, Willa, 1873-1947 -- Criticism and interpretation

Nature in literature



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University