In the above passage from The Pioneers, Cooper contrasts the civilized Old World of England with the wildness of the New World through the juxtaposition of items tied to each world. The hall contains both furniture made in Templeton and the imported furniture of the cities. The mahogany sideboard, with all its splendor and polish, expresses the Old World, which many of the pioneers hope to create in the New World. The "prodigious tables" are hybrids of both the Old and the New, much like the city of Templeton. On the other side of the room, a smaller table represents the brashness of New America.
The elaborate and ornate mahogany sideboard is a creation of the civilized world that the pioneers hope to build. The word mahogany, a dark, rich color, has elegant and graceful connotations tied to it. The sideboard is decorated with ivory and "glittering brass" handles; it is "groaning under the piles of silver plate." The table has the polish and shine associated with civilized worlds. This sideboard is part of the ideal Old World that the pioneers hope to build in America. The white of the ivory for purity, the brass glittering like lights, and the massive plates of precious silver. These ornaments make this sideboard seem like a prized gem in comparison to the other tables. This table is described first in the passage, which makes it seem more important than the other tables.
The next table presented is a hybrid of the two worlds in a strange combination of the Old and the New. This table has a "wild cherry" color, the "wild" from the wilderness of the New World and the "cherry" being connected to the rich, elegance of the Old. The table is called "prodigious," which means resembling a prodigy, the prodigy being the Old World. The table is said "to imitate the imported wood of the sideboard," the sideboard being connected to this civilized world. "Prodigious" can also mean strange or unusual, as many hybrid creations can be. The table is plain with no decoration to distinguish it from being part of the Old World. It stands next to the sideboard in alliance with the table of the Old World.
The last table, on the other side of the room from these previous tables, stands in direct contrast to the mahogany sideboard. This table is "from a lighter coloured wood"; this is completely different from the dark color of the sideboard, with the hybrid table being a color in the middle. The "grains" of this wood differ from the glitter and polish of the sideboard. These "grains" are part of the rough wilderness that makes the New World. The table is positioned directly across from the sideboard, in a face-off between the Old and New Worlds. In a final testimony to its origin, the table boldly displays the "curled-maple of mountains . . . beautifully undulating" on its face. The table suggests all the characteristics of early America; it is rude, rugged, and bold.
Cooper illustrates the contrast between the Old and New Worlds with three tables. The first represents the polish and shine of the pioneers' idealized Old World. The hybrid encompasses the city of Templeton where the two worlds are combined. The last is the New World surrounding Templeton, which is rude, bold, and young.