Determined Homesteader's Wife
''Travelers in the backcountry often reported that women and men routinely shared the heaviest manual labor. Both sexes worked together in the fields, not merely at harvest time but through the entire growing season. Women not only tended the livestock but did the slaughtering of even the largest animals. Travelers were often startled to observe delicate females knock down beef cattle with a felling ax, and then roll down their sleeves, remove their bloody aprons, tidy their hair, and invite their visitors to tea.
— Albion's Seed by David Hackett Fischer
A Determined Homesteader
can't Settle the Frontier
alone, no matter how stubborn he may be. He needs an equally determined wife. At least in fiction, the Determined Homesteader's Wife is usually a strong-willed woman who's handy around the cabin and fields, and probably knows how to load and shoot a gun
. And if she doesn't have those capabilities at the beginning of the story, she soon will have. Especially when those skills are required to protect
the Determined Homesteader's Children
The "prairie romance" subgenre of Romance Novel
will often have the protagonist becoming one of these, either from the beginning of the homestead, or as a mail order bride.
Has a tendency to become the Determined Widow
if the main character of the story is The Drifter
or The Gunslinger
- Ma Ingalls of the Little House on the Prairie series.
- Her daughter, Laura Ingalls Wilder, becomes this in The First Four Years and the sequel series about her own daughter.
- Ma Ingall's mother took it a step further and was a Determined Widow alone, with a mass of children, on the western frontier.
- Emily "Auntie Em" Gale of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz book.
- Sarah (Plain and Tall) was the mail order bride subtype.
- Alma Garrett of Deadwood was one of these — for a very short time. When her husband died, however, she used her new-found freedom to pursue the life she'd always wanted for herself but that staid Eastern civilization wouldn't have allowed.
- Lisa Douglas of Green Acres is a subversion of the type, being not at all interested in helping her husband make a success of the farm. Then again, he's something of a parody of the Determined Homesteader type himself.
- Some of the women in The Icelandic Sagas seem to have been like this.
- Robert A. Heinlein loved the uber version of this trope for female leads in space frontier settings. The ideal frontier wife, to roughly paraphrase, "should be able to fire a gun, pilot a ship, navigate by stars in space and on planets, skin and gut animals, build cabins and solve quadratic equations in her head while raising children." See, for example, Time Enough for Love.
- The Traveller volume Sword Worlds contains in a sidenote, a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming in which a soldier returns from the Fifth Frontier War to see his home wrecked by the war. Then he sees his wife, Ilja, gallantly rebuilding the house and after a suitable reunion joins her in rebuilding their family home to prove that nothing can break the spirit of a true Sword Worlder or a true Sword Worlder's wife.
- Claire Fraser becomes one of these (while retaining her status of ginormous badass) in the later books in the Outlander series. 18th Century American wilderness? Pssh, it can be beaten. (It helps that she has all the medical expertise of a 20th century medical doctor and a good set of vaccinations.)
- An old record of Alaska songs that tells of one sourdough's idea of a dream mail order bride: "If she can mush through ice and snow when its 45 below, hurry up and send me the lady...If she can pitch a tent at night, don't need matches for a light when howling winds do blow...if she's like her photo looks... hurry up and send me the lady."
- A variation of this which may be called "determined captain's wife" existed along the Atlantic coast. The wives of Americas old nautical aristocracy would have influential posts in seaports because their husbands were away at sea. Some went to sea with their husbands and became medics or de facto ships' officers. They had the same sort of determination and resilience as their Western sisters though they didn't have homesteads per se and even though at first glance they often seemed prim and delicate from their high breeding. West or East, they raised 'em tough then.
- Plague and Treachery on the Oregon Trail has Susan Neckebard, who was not that determined to follow manifest destiny as her husband at first, but his incompetence forced her to show off her phenomenal survival skills.
- Sabra Cravat of the Edna Ferber novel Cimarron and its 2 subsequent film adaptations. She settles in Oklahoma with her husband during the land rush and toughs out many years on the frontier, then takes over the family newspaper business when her husband leaves her due to wanderlust. She ends up becoming an important frontier figure in her own right.
- Marianne in Cloud of Sparrows was one of these before dying.
- There's Nell McLaughlin of Flicka who talks some some sense into her stubborn, horse rancher husband.
- Women of Lancre in the Discworld are modelled off the British version of this, the Determined Hillfarmer's Wife. Thinly fictionalised versions of the real thing turn up in James Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small series.
- Kristina in The Emigrants downplays and deconstructs this trope. She has trouble rooting in America, gets medical troubles from repeated child births and miscarriages, but is determined to create a good home for her family.