Literature Review: My Ántonia

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In My Ántonia, by Willa Cather, Peter and Paval help to portray what America was for many immigrants. Like many other immigrants, Peter and Paval see America as a place for a fresh start. In Russia the pair survived an unfortunate sledge massacre. However, the reason their sledge survived was because of foul play. The situation was one of those 'kill or be killed' situations; nonetheless they were exiled from their town. In fact, for five years “They went away to strange towns … [and] Wherever they went, the story followed them” (Cather 44). In such a sense, Peter and Paval thirsted for America; its unbroken soil was a nourishing arena that helped cultivate the aspirations of dreamers. Unfortunately for the Russians, America served as an escape from misfortune for only a short period of time. Eventually Paval fell ill and died; it was recognized that “Misfortune seemed to settle like an evil bird on the roof of the log house, and to flap its wings there, warning human beings away. The Russians had such bad luck” (38). Fortunately, not all immigrants had such awful luck in their journeys and aspirations. Although unfortunate like the Russians at the start, the Shimerdas soon straightened their situation out. Also, similarly, the Shimerdas came to America so their family, and future generations would live well off and prosperously in the highly sought after 'new world'. At one point, Ántonia explains to Jim: “my mama, she want Ambrosch for be rich, with many cattle” (63). Readers sense that the Shimerdas are destined for success; their story regards the positive outcomes for immigrants. However, in regards to Peter and Paval, their vibrant story was included in the work to clearly illustrate for readers why immigrants looked at the ... ... middle of paper ... ... hard-working people in Nebraska that grew like the corn around them. Such characters like Ambrosch work hard to see their family's farm thrive. In fact, Ántonia tells that he was the reason the Shimdas came for American freedom. She tells that “America big country; much money, much land for my boys … He is a very smart boy. For Ambrosch my mama come here” (63). All of the people of Nebraska went through similar journeys as the children and the immigrants that are expressed in My Ántonia. At first we see them struggle to decide what to do with such endless freedom. However, then readers observe as each migrant character becomes more comfortable and fluent in the way that they write their stories. What the prairies allow for is readers to have a visual of freedom. Then the novel goes on to show how each character uses their freedom and makes Nebraska their home.
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