Begins in Norway, where the stern Lutheran Church teaches that emigration to America is sinful and that anyone who defies the church's stand will be punished by a vengeful God. Two brothers, Jens and Thomas Ansen, who live with a third brother, Kal, on his farm, defy the church and leave for Wisconsin when Kal announces his intention to marry, as Kal's farm is too poor to support so many people. The Pastor Dagsrood is furious because their departure will encourage others to leave, and he accuses the precentor of the church, Harstad, of weakness in teaching God's will. But Harstad, dubious that America is such a swamp of irreligion as the church contends, informs Dagsrood that he too has decided to emigrate, in answer to the call sent by some Norwegians in Wisconsin for a pastor. His defiance persuade others who are suffering poor harvests to leave Norway as well, including Kal Ansen and his young bride, Kaja. The second act dramatizes, with stunning effectiveness, the settlers' struggles in seeking a new and better life in a strange and often hostile country, and the strength which enables them to surmount not only obstacles like blizzards and locusts but also, in the words of the Milwaukee Journal, "the tortured consciences and twisted faith that tormented the immigrants' spirits and minds."
A powerful and deeply affecting play about Norwegian immigrant settlers coming to America in the mid-19th century, and the tremendous hardships, both physical and emotional, which they endured. First produced with resounding success at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. "…a beautiful play…special in its ability to move people and leave a strong human impact on its audience. The physical and especially the psychic suffering experienced by these Norwegian pioneers reaches and touches us in the best traditions of good drama…one can't help but be moved by the vivid humanity of it all…" —Milwaukee Journal. "…it resonates, in script and production, with universal meaning." —San Francisco Chronicle.