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. One of the main ways Cather is able to invoke these emotions in the reader is through the ongoing theme of separation. Willa Cather develops her theme of separation through death, the changing seasons, characters leaving and the process of growing apart.
Cather sets the tone of the story at the very beginning; a young Jim Burden's parents have died leaving him to go to Nebraska to live with his grandparents. Right from the start Cather plants the seeds of abandonment, with the finality of death, in Jim's life. When he arrives in Nebraska he is very numb to life, but he is soon caught up in daily life on his grandparents' farm. He is blissfully happy when he first meets Antonia. They become great friends and share numerous adventures. Cather uses brief, beautifully descriptive and nostalgic recollections of situations and feelings to increase the pain and sadness of the separations that she places throughout the book. An excellent example of this is the way Cather builds up to Mr. Shimerda's suicide.
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Mrs. Cather's carefully drawn parallels in the story that build up to Antonia and Jim's separation was a truly effective method of pointing out its tragedy. However she also used other tools, such as imagery and short anecdotes to further convey her message. All together these elements, plus a good story and plot make My Antonia an excellent all around book, worthy of being called a classic.
Underline titles of novels.
Using quotes from the book would strengthen your paper. Quotes prove to the reader that you have a valid argument.
You discuss imagery in your paper to prove certain points about the separation theme. Direct quotes would have been useful.
You attempt to discuss parallelism only on one occasion. This discussion should be expanded.
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