I am reading the Vilhelm Moberg series: The Emigrant Novels. He provides an interesting perspective on the push/pull forces the drive so much of immigration to the United States. In his historic novels we have eight characters that for a variety of reasons immigrate to the United States from Sweden. We have the farmer looking for more, better farm land; his wife who is running from the emotional trauma of losing a child during the starvation times. We also have the two young men who are running away from their labor contracts with a cruel farmer. In the novel there is also the group seeking religious freedom, and the woman who is a social outcast with her illegitimate, teenage daughter. And, finally we cannot forget the man who hates his wife and is fleeing an unhappy marriage “after the children have grown.”
All of these characters are moving to the United States seeking a better life. But each of them illustrates a different personal reason that either pulls them to immigrate, or pushes them out of Sweden.
Moberg originally published this series in the 1940s and 1950s. There are four volumes. He is rich in detail and creates a set of unique and entertaining characters. The books are very readable, but more importantly, they seem to be well researched and, although historic fiction, they are accurate. The push pull factors are not the only memorable details of this story. They are simply the first of many that slowly are emerging from these pages.
Yes, the books are somewhat old, written more than 60 years ago. But the story line and the messages presented here are worth visiting. We will visit Moberg again as the story unfolds.