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 Ántonia to tears. However, recognizing the women's relationship to the development of national culture does suggest some alternative readings to the conclusions often reached, even as Ántonia's sacrifice of her own education does not exclude the contribution she makes to American culture, as we shall see.
Recognition of nation-construction effects our reading of the play of gender in the text. One such instance is in the case of narrative authority, which has frequently been cited as Jim's patriarchal subsuming of Ántonia, as we have seen. While Jim appends the "my" to his transcription of Ántonia's history, however, it is worth reiterating that Ántonia is never, in fact, Jim's; rather, his possessive "My" reflects a failed attempt at possession, as his amorous advances were firmly rebuffed and as the adult Ántonia never seeks his assistance or support. At the same time, that the tale is proffered via an anonymous female narrator further undermines Jim's narrative authority, for his masculine presumption to speak for Ántonia undergoes...
... middle of paper ...
...hts the unconstructedness of the American frontier and the central role of women in forging a community, and by extension in negotiating a fledgling national consciousness. Through the subversion of Jim Burden's narrative authority and a disrespect for gender delineations, Cather emphasizes the constructedness of patriarchal norms, highlighting their irrelevance to successful cultural consciousness. Finally, through Ántonia's final assumption of a nurturing role, she assumes not a passive feminine identification or a sudden retreat into traditional female roles. Rather, Ántonia becomes emblematic of the women who forged the frontier community in their own image, infusing it with their own ethnicities and resisting the hegemonizing impulse of the tangle of norms we now know as the American nation.
Cather, Willa. My Antonia. Boston: Houghton, 1977.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- 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)
- The Role of Men in My Antonia Gloria Steinem once wrote that "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." Clearly she is attempting to assert women's independence and further the liberation movement. However, her analogy is not quite complete. A bicycle has absolutely no place in a fish's life, but whether she needs him or not, men are very much present in a women's life. While a women can survive without a male influence, his influence shapes much of her personality. This role of man manifests itself in the lives of the women of Black Hawk but most vividly in the form of the working girls.... [tags: My Antonia Essays]
814 words (2.3 pages)
- 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.... [tags: My Antonia Essays]
558 words (1.6 pages)
- With over a half million deaths the most gruesome war in American history drove citizens to action. The suffering during this era was so great many were inspired by nationalism to act. For those who were unable to join the fight upon the battlefield, espionage represented a chance for personal involvement. Although it is believed that many agents never sought recognition for their service, especially Confederate scouts, documentation depicts the espionage present during the American Civil War to be surprisingly sophisticated.... [tags: role of women]
2024 words (5.8 pages)
- Antonia Ford was born at Fairfax Courthouse, Virginia on July 23, 1838. She had a father who was a merchant and a secessionist. She had a brother named Charles who died at the Battle of Brandy Station. Her brother fought in General James Ewell Brown Stuart's Horse Artillery as a lieutenant. General J.E.B. Stuart and John Singleton Mosby were two men who every so often visited the Ford house. When Federal troops came to Fairfax in 1861, Antonia would tell General J.E.B. Stuart of their doings and activities.... [tags: Biography]
491 words (1.4 pages)
- My Antonia Response Prompts: The Hired Girls 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.... [tags: Literary Analysis]
906 words (2.6 pages)
- Theme of Sacrifice in My Antonia and The Song of the Lark A common trait for Willa Cather's characters is that they possess a certain talent or skill. This art usually controls the lives of these characters. According to critic Maxell Geismar, Cather's heroines who possess a skill often either do not marry or marry men whom they dominate; if they do marry the marriage is without excitement because their passion is invested in their art. In a sense, Geismar accuses Cather's heroines of sacrificing their marital roles for their art (172).... [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]
2540 words (7.3 pages)
- My Ántonia is an exceptional novel, about much more than pioneers, prairies and immigrants. It is about heart, strength and soul, embodied in the role of a Bohemian immigrant to the Nebraskan prairies, Ántonia Shimerda. Narrated through the eyes of her great childhood friend Jim Burden, who was brought to the prairies to reside with his grandparents after his parent’s deaths, Ántonia’s life is laid bare for the reader. Her spirit, her beauty, her rarity, all radiate out from Jim’s words. Despite hardships, losses, struggles and terrible mistakes, Ántonia’s heart, her joyfulness of life, her purity, her precious ability to discover value and significance in what others would dismiss as useles... [tags: book report, story analysis]
564 words (1.6 pages)
- Willa Cather’s 1918 novel My Ántonia is often celebrated for its complimentary depiction of the immigrants that flocked to America at the turn of the twentieth century and hailed for its progressive approach to the ever-relevant immigrant debate. Despite the novel’s superficial benevolence towards foreigners, Janis Stout questions the authenticity of the book’s (and, by extension, Cather’s) kindnesses in her critical article “Coming to America/Escaping to Europe.” Stout argues that Cather’s ethnic characters (or lack thereof) reflect the popular, discriminatory views of her time, and extracts evidence from both the novel and the author’s personal life to buttress this claim.... [tags: United States]
1396 words (4 pages)
- The Spirit of Antonia in My Antonia The life of Antonia Shimerdas, the main character in Willa Cather's My Antonia, could easily be judged a failure. Perhaps measures of wealth, career, beauty and love fall short when held next to Antonia. If one could categorize life by that unnamable light or spirit which Antonia never loses, she would surpass all who belittle her achievements in other areas. Where the spirit comes from, no one can say. “Perhaps an ethereal or god-like being takes residence in the person's heart”(Helmick 46).... [tags: My Antonia Essays]
1247 words (3.6 pages)
- My Antonia Essay - Stages of Life
- My Antonia Essay: Weak Structure and Powerful Drama
- My Antonia Essay: The Role of Women
- Much Ado About Nothing: A Comedy with Deep Meaning
- Much Ado About Nothing Essay: The Importance of Word Choice
- Comparing Katharina, of The Taming of the Shrew and Beatrice of Much Ado About Nothing