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Essay on My Antonia by Willa Cather

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My Antonia by Willa Cather




"Disapprobation hurt me, I found—even that of people whom I did not admire." (164).

In the novel, My Antonia, by Willa Cather, society seems to govern the lives of many people. But for the others, who see past society's stereotypical values, had enough strength to overcome this and allowed them to achieve their dreams. Throughout the book, everyone seems to be trying to pursue the American Dream. While they all have different ideas of just exactly what the American Dream is, they all know precisely what they want. For some, the American Dream sounds so enticing that they have traveled across the world to achieve their goal.
One girl who chases the American Dream is Lena Lingard, a small farm girl from a poverty-stricken family. "Lena gave her heart away when she felt like it, but she kept her head for her business and had got on in the world." (192). Lena had one thing on her mind: money. To her the American Dream was wealth. She wants freedom from worry about where her next meal would come from. Lena begins her journey to wealth by becoming one of the many hired girls in the town of Black Hawk. There she was apprentice to a dressmaker and before long began to show great potential. Soon she began making money with her hard work, dedication and talent, but she uses this money not to indulge in her own desires, but to benefit her family. She spent her excess funds buying clothes for them, and paying their bills. But this wasn't enough to gain society's approval. She is a hired girl. Because she went to many dances over the summer months, many young men began noticing her, as they never had before. Because of this Lena earns a reputation like those of the hired girls; that ...


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... what the town saw as amenable. As he says, "Disapprobation hurt me, I found-- even that of people whom I did not admire." (174). Jim hides behind the shadow of his dream, never fearless enough to accomplish his own goals. As Antonia faces the world with a dauntless face, Jim shrinks back at its hand. And as she cherishes her own family, Jim settles for his. He may be accepted by society but he'll never reach his own expectations.
Some of us can be slaves to society, but still there are some others that will see beyond it to reach for what they want. People will do anything to fulfill their dreams. They will travel great distances or change their whole lifestyles to succeed. But not everyone prevails. In the end, it's the people that guide themselves and are not controlled by others. The best days may be the first to flee, but dreams live on forever (174).


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