Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Gertrude M. Sibley


The term pioneer simply means one who pushes ahead to remove obstacles and to prepare the way for others who are to follow. Nevertheless, when we speak of the pioneers in American history, we are really speaking of three different types of men who have only a little in common.

All pioneers leave behind them settled communities and highly civilized life and push out into an unknown and. unsettled country;y. Also, all pioneers are seekers, but they do not all seek the same things, Some are seeking adventure. These are the explorers, the pioneers seized with the wanderlust, those who move on and on from one place to another, and, if they live long enough, finally come back; to their friends telling wonderful tales of what they have seen and done. The second group includes those who are seeking for gold, some literally and some figuratively. The miners, the trappers, the hunters might all be classed here. The third group includes those who seek an opportunity to build new homes. These are the pioneers whose work is permanent and most worthwhile. In this sense the Puritans and other early settlers were pioneers of the truest type. They were willing to leave home and friends in order to found a new and better home for themselves and their children.

The explorer and gold seeker were necessary for the complete settlement of .the United States. but after all, it was the home seeker who finally conquered the forests and the plains. The home-seeker, to be a good pioneer, must have within him. however, the courage and impetuous desire of the explorer to push forward if he is to be successful. He must be willing to endure any number of hardships and even defeat if he is to carry out his purpose.

It is this last type of pioneer whom the modern novelist has sought to portray and interpret, and in this discussion only those novels which deal with such pioneers will be discussed.