My Antonia – An American Tale
At the beginning of this century, ships docked in American ports with their steerages filled with European immigrants. Willa Cather’s My Antonia, contains characters that immigrate to the country of America in search of hope and a new future in the Midwest prarie. This novel can be considered an American tale because it holds the American concept of the “melting pot,” the ideal of America as the “land of opportunity,” and the character’s struggles could only have occurred in America rather than their own country.
"The melting pot" is the tremendous power of national imagination – the promise that all immigrants can be transformed into Americans, a new alloy forged in a container of democracy, freedom and civic responsibility. The melting pot only exists in America which makes this country like no other. The characters in My Antonia embody this American ideal of diverse ethnicity. Otto Fuchs is of Austrian descent and came into America in the West in the presence of cowboys and worked for the Burdens in the “milder country.” Another set of foreigners were “two Russians who lived up by the big dog-town...their last names were unpronounceable so they were called Pavel and Peter” (54.) The most renowned set of foreigners were the Shimerdas coming for Bohemia. The divergent nationalities played an important role in effecting the foreigners’ lives. For example, the Shimerdas had “hated Krajiek, but they clung to him because he was the only human being from whom they could talk or from whom they could get information” (53.) Because the Shimerdas had immigrated to America and were no...
... middle of paper ...
...hem warm during the cold nights in their small sod house. Antonia’s fatherwanted to make sure the Burdens knew they were “not beggars in the old country; hemade good wages, and his family were respected there” (84.) However, in America, they were struggling just to obtain the basic needs and had trouble just fulfilling those.
To conclude, My Antonia is an American Tale because it couldn’t take place anywhere else. Only America holds the abstraction of diverse ethnicity more commonly called “the melting pot.” America is customarily called the “land of opportunity,” and this is the reason the immigrants in the novel moved to America. Ultimately, the Shimerdas wouldn’t have the tale of their demise and struggle if they had remained in their own country where they were on stable grounds. r
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- The Role of Women in My Antonia In her novel, My Antonia, Cather represents the frontier as a new nation. Blanche Gelfant notes that Cather "creat[ed] images of strong and resourceful women upon whom the fate of a new country depended" . This responsibility, along with the "economic productivity" Gilbert and Gubar cite (173), reinforces the sense that women hold a different place in this frontier community than they would in the more settled areas of America. One manner in which this unusual place can be seen is in the women's privileged relationship to the land in the text.... [tags: My Antonia Essays]
2160 words (6.2 pages)
- Role of Women in My Antonia The role of the women in My Antonia as the showcased laborers and workers in the new community does not, certainly, alleviate the questions of patriarchal influence offered in the discussions of gender. Certainly, the fact that Ántonia is deprived of the education she longs for and yet cannot have, because it is she who is responsible for her family's success--"'School is all right for little boys. I help make this land one good farm'" (94)--cannot be seen as entirely good, if we agree that "the value of education is among the greatest of all human values" (Woolf 45); and in spite of her protests to the contrary, the bitter recognition of exclusion brings Án... [tags: My Antonia Essays]
1549 words (4.4 pages)
- Pursuing the American Dream in My Antonia by Willa Cather In the novel, My Antonia, by Willa Cather, everyone seems to be trying to pursue the American Dream. While they all have different ideas of just exactly what the American Dream is, they all know precisely what they want. For some, the American Dream sounds so enticing that they have traveled across the world to achieve their goal. They work hard to fit in and succeed, but, as in the case of Mr. Shimerda, are not always successful.... [tags: My Antonia]
539 words (1.5 pages)
- In "Book V" of Willa Cather's My Antonia, Jim Burden's memoirs come full circle and present interesting insights into the underlying tone as it relates to prominent themes from the novel. The revelation of Antonia Shimerda's adulthood as satisfying and fulfilling contrasts significantly with the nostalgic emptiness and longing for reconnection expressed by Jim. Furthermore, the ever-present effects of life's earliest memories and experiences are highlighted repeatedly as the context in which all subsequent experiences will be examined.... [tags: Willa Cather, My Antonia,]
1939 words (5.5 pages)
- Theme of Separation in My Antonia My Antonia, by Willa Cather, is a book tracing the story of a young man, Jim Burden, and his relationship with a young woman, Antonia Shimerda. Jim narrates the entire story in first person, relating accounts and memories of his childhood with Antonia. He traces his journey to the Nebraska where he and Antonia meet and grow up. Jim looks back on all of his childhood scenes with Antonia with nearly heartbreaking nostalgia. My Antonia, is a book that makes many parallels to the sadness and frailty, but also the quiet beauty in life, and leaves the reader with a sense of profound sorrow.... [tags: My Antonia Essays]
996 words (2.8 pages)
- When Willa Cather wrote her novel My Antonia in 1918, there probably was not any doubt that it was the story of a woman's accomplishment. However, today there have been many critics that claim this work to be the legacy of a girl's struggle, not triumph. This perception can easily be argued. This leaves readers with the choice of interpreting the book as enlightening or depressing. My Antonia took place in the late 19th century. Jim Burden narrated his recollections of Antonia's life and their childhood together, after a twenty-year absence.... [tags: My Antonia Essays]
1048 words (3 pages)
- Stages of Life in My Antonia In the past, critics have demoralized and brutalized every writer they could get their pen on. This is seen from criticisms of Henry Adams to William Butler Yeats. These critics critique everything about the writer and his/her works. For instance, many critics criticize Willa Cather's novel, My Antonia. Their criticisms lie on the basis that My Antonia is based on cyclical themes with no structure holding each of My Antonia's books. In other words, as a collection of five different accounts remembered by the main character, Jim Burden, My Antonia is characterized by a loose plot structure, yet common themes are expressed through the cyclical nature, inc... [tags: My Antonia Essays]
1576 words (4.5 pages)
- According to James E. Miller Jr.'s, "My Antonia; A Frontier Drama of Time," Willa Cather's novel, one of her most important and perhaps most popular works, is "defective in structure" (Bloom, 21). He quotes E. K. Brown, who defends that: " 'Everything in the book is there to convey a feeling, not to tell a story, not to establish a social philosophy, not even to animate a group of characters'" (21). The reader undoubtedly feels the impact of the story of Antonia and Jim as Cather intended, but critics blind themselves to the essence of My Antonia, by looking for a "consistent central action of unbroken character portrayal" (21). The structure bases itself on the narrative of Jim Burde... [tags: My Antonia Essays]
1584 words (4.5 pages)
- Criticism of My Antonia My Antonia by Willa Cather is a novel based on the memories of the protagonist, Jim Burden. Many critics have criticized this novel, and have focused on such literary elements as symbolism, motif, and characterization. The strongest argument however is the one that states that the foundation of every element in the book is based on the personal memories of Willa Cather. Many critics have discussed the symbolism in this novel. One symbol that some critics have discussed is the plow.... [tags: My Antonia Essays]
850 words (2.4 pages)
- Psychoanalytic Criticism of My Antonia Abstract: This essay uses psychoanalysis as the strategy of interpretation to read Willa Cather's My Antonia. Freud's well-known theory--the Oedipus complex--and Lacan's theory of the Mirror Stage are used as the modes of approaching the novel. I use psychoanalytic criticism as a means of interpreting Willa Cather's My Antonia because I find some similarities between My Antonia and Peter Pan, between that and The Awakening when reading Keith Green's Critical Theory and Practice: A Coursebook.... [tags: My Antonia Essays]
1867 words (5.3 pages)