The Character of Marek Shimerda in My Antonia

:: 1 Works Cited
Length: 692 words (2 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Excellent
Open Document
Need writing help? Check your paper »

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

More ↓
The Character of Marek Shimerda in My Antonia

 
    In Willa Cather's novel, My Antonia, Marek Shimerda is starved for attention because he is constantly ignored due to his mental retardation. It is solely because of his handicap and the assumption of his inability to help out with the farming and household chores that his family views him as helpless which results in Marek's strange and awkward actions. He is presented as an ill minded young man throughout the novel, repeatedly excused, and resides in the shadow of his healthy, fully functional older brother, Ambrosh Shimerda.

 

Marek is a token character that is simply taken for granted. He is portrayed as strange and useless. When Jim Burden and his family first meet the Bohemians, he is approached by Marek, the second eldest son. "As he approached us, he began to make uncouth noises, and held up his hands to show us his fingers, which were webbed to the first knuckle, like a duck's foot. When he saw me draw back, he began to crow delightedly" (Cather, 24). Everyone who encounters this poor boy instantly views him as `crazy'. All of his actions are presented as strange. "The crazy boy, seeing the food, began to make soft, gurgling noises and stroked his stomach" (Cather, 60), and evidently he is. "The crazy boy went with them [outside], because he did not feel the cold. I believed he felt the cold as much as any one else, but he liked to be thought insensible to it. He was always coveting distinction, poor Marek" (Cather, 82)!

 

Because of everyone's inability to understand and relate to Marek, he is pitied and constantly excused. After Jim`s reaction to Marek`s webbed fingers, Marek begins to express himself, maybe even trying to communicate with what could be a new friend, but he is immediately quieted. ""Hoo, hoo-hoo, hoo-hoo!" like a rooster. His mother scowled and said sternly, "Marek!" then spoke rapidly to Krajiek in Bohemian. "She wants me to tell you he won't hurt anybody, Mrs. Burden. He was born like that..." No one bothers to befriend this young man or even tries to talk to him throughout the entire book. Although he is obviously mentally challenged, it is not evident that any one of the characters in Cather's novel tries to reach out to this young man or teach him to be a helpful resource around the Shimerdas' household.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The Character of Marek Shimerda in My Antonia." 123HelpMe.com. 12 Dec 2017
    <http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id=14919>.
Title Length Color Rating  
Essay about Conflict Shapes Character in Willa Cather's My Antonia - Conflict Shapes Character in Willa Cather's My Antonia The conflict in ones life will shape their character in the future. This is especially true in the novel My Antonia, 1918. The author Willa Cather takes you through the life of a young Bohemian immigrant, Antonia Shimerda, as seen through the eyes of her good friend Jim Burden. At age ten, Jim Burden lost both of his parents and was sent to live with his grandparents on their Nebraska farm. He first meets Antonia when his grandmother and one of the farm hands take the Shimerdas some provisions....   [tags: Cather My Antonia Essays]
:: 1 Works Cited
769 words
(2.2 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Free Essays - Criticism of My Antonia - Criticism of My Antonia     My Antonia by Willa Cather is a novel based on the memories of the protagonist, Jim Burden. Many critics have criticized this novel, and have focused on such literary elements as symbolism, motif, and characterization. The strongest argument however is the one that states that the foundation of every element in the book is based on the personal memories of Willa Cather.   Many critics have discussed the symbolism in this novel. One symbol that some critics have discussed is the plow....   [tags: My Antonia Essays] 850 words
(2.4 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Free My Antonia Essays: The Character of Antonia Shimerda - The Character of Antonia Shimerda in My Antonia Antonia Shimerda spends her whole life fighting, yet she is not known to be belligerent. She is constantly being battered, but still has no visible scars. Antonia is a girl who suffers all through her life, and somehow manages to keep an optimistic outlook. She is one of those rare people who gain character, rather than resentment, by enduring hardship. Throughout the book, MY ANTONIA, the strength and perseverance of this girl definitely portray her as "battered but not diminished." The symbol of freedom, courage and hardship, the country seems to invite all to come and settle, but not without a struggle....   [tags: My Antonia Essays] 759 words
(2.2 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Mr. Shimerda's Suicide in Willa Cather's My Antonia Essay - Mr. Shimerda's Suicide in Willa Cather's My Antonia My Antonia, by Willa Cather, is a novel about Jim Burden and his relationship and experiences growing up with Antonia Shimerda in Nebraska. Throughout the book Jim reflects on his memories of Nebraska and the Shimerda family, often times in a sad and depressing tone. One of the main ways Cather is able to provoke these sad emotions within the reader is through the suicide of Antonia’s father, Mr. Shimerda. His death was unexpected by everyone and it is thought that homesickness is what drove him to take his own life....   [tags: My Antonia Willa Cather Essays] 1212 words
(3.5 pages)
Good Essays [preview]
My Antonia Essay: The Character of Lena Lingard - The Character of Lena Lingard in My Antonia            Lena Lingard is the best example of a non-domestic central character which appears amidst the domesticity of My Ántonia. Often the sections which feature Lena instead of Ántonia are seen as confusing divergences from the plot line of a novel that purports to be about the woman named in the title. However, since Lena appears in the novel almost as often as Ántonia, and more often than any other character except Jim, she is a central character....   [tags: My Antonia Essays]
:: 5 Works Cited
1791 words
(5.1 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
The Powerful Character of My Antonia Essay - The Powerful Character of My Antonia "Ántonia is a natural born mother." (Page 253) This was how everybody thought of Ántonia; she was a girl who would always leave a remarkable memory in everybody's mind through her strong, incredible strength. When she first came to Black Hawk, she was still a fourteen year old girl who ran in the field bare-footed and romping from place to place with Jim Burden. Her cheerfulness lessened when her father committed suicide and she had to take care of her family by coming to town and working as a hired girl for the Harlings....   [tags: My Antonia Essays] 662 words
(1.9 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
My Antonia Essay: Antonia and Jim - Antonia and Jim of My Antonia           In Willa Cather's My Antonia a special bond is formed, shattered, mended, and eventually secured between the main characters, Antonia Shimerda and Jim Burden. Jim and Antonia seem to be destined to affect each other's lives dramatically, from the beginning of the novel.                Starting at a young age, the main characters lives are intertwined. They form a special bond, which have both positive and negative affects on their relationship. At the time when Jim and Antonia are growing up, a rigid social structure exists in Nebraska....   [tags: My Antonia Essays]
:: 6 Works Cited
1504 words
(4.3 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
My Antonia Essay: The Spirit of Antonia - The Spirit of Antonia in My Antonia        The life of Antonia Shimerdas, the main character in Willa Cather's My Antonia, could easily be judged a failure. Perhaps measures of wealth, career, beauty and love fall short when held next to Antonia. If one could categorize life by that unnamable light or spirit which Antonia never loses, she would surpass all who belittle her achievements in other areas.   Where the spirit comes from, no one can say. “Perhaps an ethereal or god-like being takes residence in the person's heart”(Helmick 46)....   [tags: My Antonia Essays]
:: 3 Works Cited
1247 words
(3.6 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay about Power of the Frontier Exposed in My Antonia - Power of the Frontier Exposed in My Antonia         Willa Cather's novel My Ántonia dramatizes the effect the frontier has on both native-born people and immigrants that come to the West in search of new beginnings. The story centers around two families living in a remote area of Nebraska from completely diverse backgrounds. This tale suggests that regardless of where a person comes from, the trials and tribulations of living under such tough conditions will ultimately impact his/her future existence....   [tags: My Antonia Essays]
:: 3 Works Cited
1932 words
(5.5 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
The Beauty of the Lack of Structure in My Antonia Essay -     According to James E. Miller Jr.'s, "My Antonia; A Frontier Drama of Time," Willa Cather's novel, one of her most important and perhaps most popular works, is "defective in structure" (Bloom, 21).  He quotes E. K. Brown, who defends that: " 'Everything in the book is there to convey a feeling, not to tell a story, not to establish a social philosophy, not even to animate a group of characters'" (21).  The reader undoubtedly feels the impact of the story of Antonia and Jim as Cather intended, but critics blind themselves to the essence of My Antonia, by looking for a "consistent central action of unbroken character portrayal" (21).  The structure bases itself on the narrative of Jim Burde...   [tags: My Antonia Essays]
:: 4 Works Cited
1584 words
(4.5 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]

Related Searches




"When Jake went out, Marek crawled along the floor and stuffed up the door-crack again" (Cather, 61). He was capable of thinking and therefore there most likely was more to Marek than what was expressed.

 

Marek's functional, older brother is greatly valued in his family, because of this, he is left in his towering shadow. Because of the family's great admiration for Ambrosch, the eldest son, "Ambrosch was considered the important person in the family. Mrs. Shimerda and Antonia always deferred to him...." (Cather, 74), it is very possible that Marek harbored some jealousy toward him. ."... He was born like that. The others are smart. Ambrosch, he makes a good farmer." He [Marek] struck Ambrosch on the back, and the boy smiled knowingly" (Cather, 24). Ambrosch runs the show and Marek is left behind to stay quiet and not draw any attention. It is apparent that this boy was ignored by his family and possibly picked on by the healthy, helpful eldest son Ambrosch.

 

Marek falls victim to assumption throughout Cather's novel. He is assumed to be a waste of space and is therefore treated as one. He is hardly mentioned throughout the book unless it is in conjunction with a strange and awkward action or random noise he's made. It is possible that a little positive attention could have helped him blossom into a useful, functioning adult. It is interesting as well that the adult Antonia has a son viewed as a bit on the strange side as well. But Leo is said to "possess a keener power of enjoyment than other people...."(Cather, 262) rather than being dismissed as `the crazy boy' like Marek is throughout the novel.

 

Work Cited

 

Cather, Willa. My Antonia. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. 1995.

 

 


Return to 123HelpMe.com