Harling Family Views
“They were all Bohemians, all “hired girls”, states Cather (136). Raising a family on the frontier is very hard work. At this point in the novel, a new aspect of life is revealed. Families who can afford it, bring "hired girls" into their household. Recently, many young women have been acquiring jobs within the Black Hawk area to earn a living. The Harlings are the next door neighbors to Antonia's best friends, the Burtons. Antonia has recently taken a housekeeping job at the Harling residence.
There are multiple components to being a “hired girl”. A girl usually starts out living a rough life and playing the role of a second mom. She faces the troubles of taking care of her siblings and having to make many sacrifices, including education, to provide a better life for her family. These girls learn "so much from life, from poverty, from their mothers, and grandmothers” that enable them to work for the citizens of Black Hawk, Nebraska (135).
There are, however, contrasting views of Antonia, as well as the hired girls in general within the Harling household. In particular, Mr. and Mrs. Harling have different attitudes toward Antonia as their “hired girl”. Mr. Harling holds high expectations for his children and Antonia. He has a tendency to be disappointed or easily angered with the members of his family. He is extremely strict, demanding, distrustful, and very protective of the people living in his home. Mr. Harling is considered to be a curmudgeon. In one particular instance, he expresses his feelings about Antonia after her night out in town. He states that she has “got the same reputation” of most girls who are easygoing (140). With his distr...
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...utter sneaks into the house. To do this, Mr. Cutter tricks his wife to get on the wrong train, so that he can get home early to catch Antonia and Jim. Sadly, Mrs. Cutter can not even trust her own husband.
Throughout the beginning of the novel, Antonia and the people of Black Hawk fight to survive the frontier. Even though, Wick Cutter is rather a villainous individual, Cather includes him in the novel for a reason. Most people today have not encountered the rigors of growing up on the frontier. Back in the day, many people encountered conflict between money-lenders and faced the consequences of getting sucked into their plans. Cather includes him to show that money-lenders, and people like them are very money oriented, and cannot be trusted. Wick Cutter is the textbook definition of cynical, and will hopefully pay, in multiple ways for his devious actions.
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