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My Antonia Essay - An American Tale

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My Antonia – An American Tale

At the beginning of this century, ships docked in American ports with their steerages filled with European immigrants.  Willa Cather’s My Antonia, contains characters that immigrate to the country of America in search of hope and a new future in the Midwest prarie.  This novel can be considered an American tale because it holds the American concept of the “melting pot,” the ideal of America as the “land of opportunity,” and the character’s struggles could only have occurred in America rather than their own country.

      "The melting pot" is the tremendous power of national imagination – the promise that all immigrants can be transformed into Americans, a new alloy forged in a container of democracy, freedom and civic responsibility.  The melting pot only exists in America which makes this country like no other.  The characters in My Antonia embody this American ideal of diverse ethnicity.  Otto Fuchs is of Austrian descent and came into America in the West in the presence of cowboys and worked for the Burdens in the “milder country.”  Another set of foreigners were “two Russians who lived up by the big dog-town...their last names were unpronounceable so they were called Pavel and Peter” (54.)  The most renowned set of foreigners were the Shimerdas coming for Bohemia.  The divergent nationalities played an important role in effecting the foreigners’ lives.  For example, the Shimerdas had “hated Krajiek, but they clung to him because he was the only human being from whom they could talk  or from whom they could get information” (53.)  Because the Shimerdas had immigrated to America and were no...


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...hem warm during the cold nights in their small sod house. Antonia’s fatherwanted to make sure the Burdens knew they were “not beggars in the old country; hemade good wages, and his family were respected there” (84.)  However, in America, they were struggling just to obtain the basic needs and had trouble just fulfilling those.  

      To conclude, My Antonia is an American Tale because it couldn’t take place anywhere else.   Only America holds the abstraction of diverse ethnicity more commonly called “the melting pot.”  America is customarily called the “land of opportunity,” and this is the reason the immigrants in the novel moved to America.  Ultimately, the Shimerdas wouldn’t have the tale of their demise and struggle if they had remained in their own country where they were on stable grounds. r


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