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The Trials and Tribulations of Jim Burden Essays

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My Antonia was not written as a true autobiography, but as a correlation of Willa Cather's life itself. Some argue that Jim Burden is just a delineation of Willa Cather. For instance, “Willa Cather was born in Virginia and moved to Nebraska to live with her grandparents in 1883” (willacather.org). Cather uses her own experience to build up the beginning plot of her Novel My Antonia. Cather's My Antonia describes the struggle and character development of Jim Burden's character as he tries to model himself after a Bohemian immigrant who is unable to cope with the guilt and strenuous life of an emigrant.
Jim tries to model himself after a man who is crushed by the yoke of caring for his family. Since he has no paternal figure in his life, Jim is unable to decipher the emotional pain of Mr. Shimerda. At this point, Jim first starts to contemplate his romanticized view on life. The irony of this is when Mr. Shimerda promises to give Jim his gun after he becomes a real man. Antonia translates it into, “My tatinek say when you are big boy, he give you his gun” (Cather 32). Mr. Shimerda defines being a real man as being able to provide for your family, which he has been unable to do since they migrated to Nebraska. This causes a chain reaction in Jim and Antonia. Mr. Shimerda's death causes Jim and Antonia to sort of diverge paths with their decision making, and as Antonia begins to age. She takes on the parental role, or catalyst, that Jim needs to develop as a character.
Jim and Antonia's relationship could not extend beyond the friend-zone because of the divergent paths their lives were taking after Mr. Shimerda's death. Later in the novel, Antonia had to quit school
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in order to keep up with the responsibilities her f...


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...who fell into the slot of most emigrants to
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America at the time.
Willa Cather used her own experiences to start the plot and give the story background. Both she and Jim Burden were born in Virginia, and moved to Nebraska. In the beginning of the novel, Antonia is the crutch that supports Jim through his slow early development. Later, she just becoms a catalyst that continues jim's development as a character. My Antonia is about the character development and struggle for Jim to overcome his sense of Nostalgia after modeling himself after a Bohemian immigrant who was unable to bear the pressures of emigrating to America.



Works Cited
Cather, Willa. My Ántonia. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1954. Print.
"Willa Cather- About Willa Cather - Red Cloud Nebraska (NE)." Willa Cather-About Willa Cather - Red Cloud Nebraska (NE). N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2013.



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