So Big Book Summary - So Big Book explained in key points

So Big summary

Edna Ferber

Brief summary

So Big by Edna Ferber is a captivating novel that follows the life of Selina Peake, a strong and determined woman who takes on the challenges of raising her son and running a farm. It explores themes of love, ambition, and the pursuit of a meaningful life.

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Table of Contents

    So Big
    Summary of key ideas

    Early Life and Struggles

    In So Big by Edna Ferber, we are introduced to Selina Peake, a young woman who has just lost her father. She moves to Chicago to live with her father's family, who are wealthy but materialistic. Selina is determined to become a schoolteacher, a profession that her family disapproves of. Despite their objections, she pursues her dream and becomes a teacher in a small farming community.

    Life in the farming community is tough, and Selina struggles to make ends meet. She marries a farmer, Pervus DeJong, who is kind but lacks ambition. After his untimely death, Selina is left to raise their son, Dirk, on her own. She takes over the farm and works tirelessly to provide for her son, instilling in him the values of hard work and determination.

    Dirk's Ambitions and Struggles

    As Dirk grows up, he becomes increasingly dissatisfied with the farming life. He yearns for something more, something bigger. He leaves the farm to pursue his education and eventually becomes an architect in Chicago. Despite his success, Dirk is haunted by his mother's unfulfilled dreams and the memory of his father's unambitious life.

    Dirk's career takes off, and he becomes a renowned architect. However, his personal life is marred by failed relationships and a growing sense of emptiness. He realizes that his pursuit of success has left him feeling unfulfilled, and he begins to question the values he has been taught.

    Reconciliation and Understanding

    After years of estrangement, Dirk returns to the farm to visit his mother. He is struck by the changes in her. Selina, once a vibrant and energetic woman, is now worn down by years of hard work. Despite this, she remains proud of her life and her son's achievements. Dirk begins to understand and appreciate his mother's sacrifices and the values she has instilled in him.

    As Selina nears the end of her life, she imparts her wisdom to Dirk, urging him to find happiness in the simple things and to live a life true to himself. Dirk realizes that his mother's definition of success, rooted in hard work and integrity, is what he has been searching for all along.


    In conclusion, So Big is a poignant exploration of the American Dream and the pursuit of success. Through the lives of Selina and Dirk, Edna Ferber examines the complexities of ambition, the sacrifices we make for our dreams, and the true meaning of success. The novel ends with Dirk returning to the farm, embracing his mother's values, and finding peace in a life that is 'so big' in its simplicity and authenticity.

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    What is So Big about?

    So Big by Edna Ferber is a classic novel that tells the story of Selina Peake, a determined and independent woman who becomes a successful farmer in the early 20th century. Through Selina's journey, the book explores themes of ambition, motherhood, and the pursuit of happiness. It is a timeless tale that reminds us to live life to the fullest and follow our dreams.

    So Big Review

    So Big (1924) by Edna Ferber explores the life of a determined woman navigating the challenges and triumphs of the early 20th century. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It highlights the perseverance and resilience of the human spirit, painting a vivid picture of overcoming obstacles against all odds.
    • The novel delves into the complexities of ambition and motherhood, offering a deep exploration of the protagonist's struggles and choices.
    • Through its timeless themes of love, sacrifice, and self-discovery, the book resonates with readers on a deeply emotional level, promising a captivating and thought-provoking read.

    Who should read So Big?

    • Readers who enjoy classic literature with strong female protagonists
    • People interested in the challenges and triumphs of women in the early 20th century
    • Those who appreciate beautifully written descriptions of rural life and the human spirit

    About the Author

    Edna Ferber was an American author and playwright known for her insightful and engaging storytelling. Throughout her career, she wrote numerous successful novels and plays, including 'Show Boat' and 'Giant'. Ferber's work often explored themes of ambition, love, and the human experience. Her novel 'So Big' remains one of her most celebrated works, earning her the Pulitzer Prize in 1925. With her unique perspective and captivating narratives, Ferber continues to be a beloved figure in American literature.

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    So Big FAQs 

    What is the main message of So Big?

    The main message of So Big revolves around the themes of ambition, societal expectations, and the pursuit of happiness.

    How long does it take to read So Big?

    Reading So Big can take a few hours depending on your pace. The Blinkist summary can be read in under 15 minutes.

    Is So Big a good book? Is it worth reading?

    So Big is worth reading for its exploration of personal growth, love, and the impact of choices on one's life.

    Who is the author of So Big?

    The author of So Big is Edna Ferber.

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    If you're wondering what to read next after So Big, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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