immigrant life, Danish farm, Sophus Keith Winther, religion


The harsh and forbidding aspects of immigrant life pervade Sophus Keith Winther's trilogy dealing with the experience of the appropriately named Grimsens, a Danish farm family in southeastern Nebraska, from the late 1890's through approximately the first quarter of the 20th century. Prominence is given to the struggle against economic odds and the problems of social adjustment in an area where there are not many Danes, so few, in fact, that the religious needs of the community are served through monthly visits of a Danish Lutheran pastor from Omaha. Den danske Pioneer provides the family with reading material and the inspiration to fight against discouragement. The sons search for education beyond that available in the local school and library. In the dark atmosphere the contrasts of occasional happy moments shine with radiance: The Weeping Willow Danes gather to reminisce about the Danish past; something as mundane as the Danish delight in coffee and food is given its proper place; the typical Nordic reserve in the family breaks now and then, especially in the relationship between Meta and her sons; here the emphasis is on the bond - and the barrier -- of the Danish Language.