Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in GREAT PLAINS QUARTERLY 25:3 (Summer 2005). Copyright © 2005 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


In her essay "Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power," Audre Lorde writes, "There are many kinds of power, used and unused, acknowledged or otherwise. The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling."l Lorde notes that women often deny the erotic within themselves because of the suspicion in which it is held by western society; she exhorts her readers to challenge the artificial dichotomy between the spiritual and the erotic and to recognize this connection in their lives. In Willa Cather's second novel, O Pioneers!, Alexandra Bergson, the main character, spends much of her life sublimating the erotic power that lies within her, focusing her energies instead on carving a farm out of the Nebraska prairie. Alexandra experiences a series of dreams throughout her adult life, dreams that underscore her connection to this silenced, powerful resource.