My Antonia Essay: Importance of Setting

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The Importance of Setting in My Antonia

The setting of the story has tremendous impact on the characters and themes in the novel "My Antonia" by Willa Cather. Cather's delicately crafted naturalistic style is evident not only in her colorfully detailed depictions of the Nebraska frontier, but also in her characters’ relationship with the land on which they live. The common naturalist theme of man being controlled by nature appears many times throughout the novel, particularly in the chapters containing the first winter.

The Burden's and the Shimerda's, try as they might, cannot fight the harsh climate of the Nebraska prairie. Rather than attempt to control the environment around them, they must learn to work with it and adjust to make do with what they have. Jim learns this his first winter, as well as the Shimerda's, for they are both newcomers to a strange place. They realize that trying to fight the wind and snow will do more harm than good, and adapt themselves to work when weather permits and hope nature...

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