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My Antonia Essay

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My Antonia is a novel about a man’s look into his past and his account of his childhood friend, Antonia. Throughout the novel, many characters are introduced that are separated from the majority due to their nationality and migrating to the mid-west. Antonia Shimerda is one of the main characters that shows this separation, with language and her nationality as the barrier while migrating west with her family. Though Jim is an American boy, he suffers from separation with being away from home and with being in a new place. Through their growth, each character faces their own separation and comes to terms with their differences. The theme of character separation is seen within My Antonia. Through this separation, the connection of two individual characters becomes a bond that keeps the two characters connected through the novel.
The story begins with Jim Burden being separated from his family after their deaths. Since he loses his parents, he must travel to Nebraska to live with his grandparents, a journey that he set out on with one of the farm “hands” of his father. This journey to Nebraska offers for Jim a new and different life. Jim’s forced separations “orphaned and expelled from the East by his relatives, feels the same sense of having ‘left behind’ forever the things and people that matter to him” (Holmes); a loss from what he knew and where he grew up, leaving behind everything, even his parents’ spirits. He expresses his journey as setting out to “try our fortunes in a new world” (Cather, 49). Jim knows that there is a separation all around him especially the separation from his coach car to the immigrant car, where Antonia and her family are traveling in: “their initial separation is a durable dividing line that foresh...


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...ction to people. Antonia does not allow for her separation to be a burden or barrier unless she wants it to be. This is seen when she travels back home after her failed marriage. She causes her own separation from the community when she closes herself off. With time, she takes her life back and returns to the community and ends the separation that she causes.




Works Cited

Cather, Willa. "The Norton Anthology American Literature." My Antonia. 8th ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company , 2012. 47-181. print.
Holmes, Catherine D. "Jim Burde's Lost Worlds: Exile In My Antonia." Twentieth Century Literature 45.3 (1999): 336. MAS Ultra - School Edition. Web. 14 March 2014.
Palmer, Scott. "'The train of thought': classed travel and nationality in Willa Cather's My Antonia." Studies in American Fiction 29.2 (2001): 239+. Literature Resource Center. Web. 14 March 2014.



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