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“...dead, earth-bound things...”

In The Emigrants, Karl Oskar Nilsson is leaving his family farm in Sweden with his wife Kristina and their young children, headed for America. His parents Nils and Marta will remain behind, clinging to tradition, unwilling and unable to brave the unknown dangers of the New World.

Karl Oskar could not see either of his parents make the slightest movement. As they stood there on the stoop, looking after the wagon, they seemed to him as still and immobile as dead, earth-bound things, as a pair of high stones in the field or a couple of tree trunks in the forest, deeply rooted in the ground. It was as if they had assumed that position once and for all, and intended to hold it forever. And as he saw them in the half-mist, this early morning, so they were forever to return to his mind: Mother and Father, standing quietly together on the stoop, looking after a cart driving through the gate and onto the road and after a minute disappearing among the junipers at the bend. In that place and at that position his parents would always remain in his mind. After many years he would still see them standing there, close together, looking out on the road, immobile objects, two human sculptures in stone.

Kristina did not mention to Karl Oskar that she had happened to hear a remark by Nils as the wagon was ready to depart: "I must go outside and behold my sons' funeral procession."

June 21, 2019 | Permalink

Comments

Is that story translated to English from the original?

Posted by: Paul at Jun 24, 2019 4:13:10 AM

Yes, originally written in Swedish, translated into English. First published in 1951.

Posted by: Pete at Jun 27, 2019 11:39:11 AM