The landscape and the environment in Willa Cather's, My Ántonia, plays several roles. It creates both a character and protagonist, while it also reflects Cather's main characters, Jim and Ántonia, as well as forming the structure of the novel. Additionally, it evokes several themes that existed on the prairie during the time in which the story takes place. Some of these themes that directly relate to the novel, which are worth exploring, are endurance, hardship, and spirituality. Additionally, the symbolism of the "hot and cold" climate will be examined, revealing the significance it has on the novel in an overall manner. The analyses will further explain Cather's construction of the novel, which is based on three cycles: the cycle of the seasons, the cycle of life and physical development and lastly, the cultural cycle.
It is important to first note the general symbolism the Nebraskan land represents. As Altieri suggests, while the land is a "powerful protagonist in the conflict to survive and prosper," it also represents the great hardships and rewards that result because of it (1). Common knowledge tells us everything that serves to sustain life comes from the land, and this information serves to illustrate the general impact that the land and environment can have on life. However, because land is so important to society, it also represents hard work, sacrifice, and hardship. If the land is dry, frozen or starving, so are those people who depend on it. Nevertheless, Altieri notes, "the Nebraskan country in My Ántonia symbolized permanence, endurance, hardship, freedom of spirit, and personal creativity" (1). Ántonia's family, the Shimerdas, come t...
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...eview of My Antonia." Murphy's Critical Essays 145-147.
Dyck, Reginald. "The Feminist Critique of Willa Cather's Fiction: A Review Essay." Women's Studies 22 (1993): 263-279.
Ferguson, Mary Anne. "My Antonia in Women's Studies: Pioneer Women and Men-- The Myth and the Reality." Rosowski's Approaches to Teaching 95-100.
Helmick, Evelyn. "The Mysteries of Antonia." Bloom's Willa Cather's . . . , 109-119.
Irving Katrina. "Displacing Homosexuality: The Use of Ethnicity in Willa Cather's My Antonia." Modern Fiction Studies 36 (1990): 91-111.
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