On the surface people want to change their very livelihood, but on the other hand people want to keep their lives in the same order as it always has. It seems like there is always a difference between stability in one’s lifestyles, and changes in one’s life. For example, when developers build a new shopping center many may oppose to it however the developer will most likely get their way and change will overpower. However, when the plans of the center get rejected, then stability can overpower.
This is as such in the way of life, as one will fine themselves struggling to find stability among changes in their life. This can be said about Ivy Peters and Niel Herbert in A Lost Lady where they have different opinions on stability and change as Niel wants to keep everything the same while Ivy is all change. Therefore, in A Lost Lady, Willa Cather uses the characters of Ivy Peters and Niel Herbert to show based on their values, accomplishments, and behaviors, change overpowers stability in most instances.
Ivy Peters has accomplishments that differ from Niel’s in contributing to stability and change due to Ivy always wanting change in the town, and often times Ivy accomplishments do change people’s lifestyles (mainly the Forrester’s). For example, Ivy drains the Forester’s marsh in order to gain a profit from the land and thereby changing the Forrester’s (mainly Mrs. Foresters) lifestyle “I’ve drained the marsh and out it into wheat” (88). Ivy’s also found Mrs.
Forrester some land in Wyoming (presumptively to live in) “He’s got a little money invested in me in Wyoming, in land” (104). Niel however sees through Ivy in terms of the investment “He’ll take advantage of anybody’s necessity” (105). Niel’s accomplishments however differentiate from Ivy’s in the fact that Niel wanted to keep stability in the Forrester’s marriage, and (briefly) succeeded by cutting the phone wire on Mrs. Forrester’s call to the man she was having an affair with (Frank Ellinger) “… he began talking wild, and I cut the telephone wire behind your desk. ” (115). In addition to their contrasting accomplishments, Niel and Ivy also have contrasting behaviors towards stability and change. For example, Niel’s behavior toward change is none too kind especially towards Ivy Peter’s treatment of the Forrester’s after the draining of the marsh. For example when, Ivy invites his self to lunch after going back to work on the marsh Niel asks Mrs. Forrester: “Why do you allow him to speak to you like that, Mrs. Forrester? (104), this shows that Niel is not too fond of Ivy Peter’s behavior in terms of respect towards others in the aspect of the change in Ivy after he drained the marsh. Ivy’s behavior seems to sharply change from the first part to the second part of the story, and Niel behavior seems stable. For example, Ivy used to be a daring person in terms of slicing the woodpeckers eyes “… he slit both the eyes that glared in the birds stupid little head, and instantly released it”. However in the second part of the story Ivy is some sort of high class businessman as he seems more grown up not caring for the town.
In contrast Niel’s behavior show more stability in the fact that he always seems respectful of his elders as he always respectfully called the Captain “sir” and Mrs. Forrester “Ma’m”. Not only do Ivy’s and Niel’s behaviors contribute towards stability and change, but their values show how stability can mostly overpower change. For example, Ivy did not ever value the Marsh as it was viewed by Niel as “obliterating a few acres of something he (Ivy) always hated” (89) while Ivy never valued the marsh, he always wanted to de-value the Forrester home, yet thereby proving that Ivy Peter’s was always for change.
In contrast however, Niel’s values are very different in the terms that he maintains them. For example, Niel values spending time with the Captain Forrester throughout his strokes “He was kept in bed for three weeks, and Niel helped Mrs. Forrester and Ben Keezer take care of him”(78). And again near the end of the novel when Niel offered to stay in Sweet Water instead of going to Boston “I don’t see how I can go back to Boston and leave the Forresters. ” (120) this shows Niel has not change and he still cares for the Forresters.
Ivy Peters and Niel Herbert are no doubt two completely different characters with differentiating personal views on the changes in Sweet Water, but in the end Ivy Peters constant changes overpowered the stability of Niel’s throwback lifestyle. Which makes a person wonder if change is a good thing? Well if you take those lessons form Ivy Peters you may find yourself on top of the world by making money off of cutting down and changing things you don’t like. However a person could benefit from these changes if one attempts to change things correctly, and you may change for the better.