In an attempt to reconnect to a time of satisfaction and fulfillment in his life, Jim Burden records his childhood memoirs which revolve around his relationship with Antonia Shimerda. By the fifth and final book, Jim has grown to middle age and lost touch with the home of his youth and his oldest childhood companion, Antonia. He finally brings himself to visit Antonia and her large family after a span of twenty years. Jim is hesitant because he fears his memories will be tainted by the reality of Antonia's circumstances. He believes that "Some memories are realities, and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again." (211) Jim's reluctance to uncover the reality of Antonia's adulthood sugg...
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...ldhood experiences and memories becomes the central theme. Jim, Antonia, Anton Cuzak, Mr. Shimerda, and the Cuzak children are all representative of one's past and present. The characters' past and present are explored in-depth within the context of the Nebraskan prairie. This environment actively symbolizes the connections that the characters develop between themselves and their environment and with each other. Cather's tone with respect to the central theme is ultimately revealed in "Book V" and anchored in Jim's realization that reconnection to the setting and relationships of his youth is central to an overall sense of satisfaction and fulfillment in adulthood. Upon completion of "Book V", Cather has done away with the conventional wisdom that "one can never go home again" and has shown the reader that at times , one must go home again in order to be fulfilled.
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