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Success in Willa Cather's My Antonia
The American college dictionary defines success as 1. The favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors, 2. The gaining of wealth, possessions, or the like. This has been the general seances for the past hundred years or more. But in more modern days the prospective of success has changed slightly. It has shifted to having a good education, going to collage, getting a carrier getting married & having children. Having your own home and eventually dying and passing it all on to a child or children. Success is no longer satisfaction or personal goals. It has been supplemented by the goals society has preset for the populous that have been drilled into the minds of the young from the very beginning. To a man named Santiago in The Old Man and The Sea by: Earnest Hemingway, success was to conquer the Marlin Santiago had fought for so long. But as a cruel twist of fate his success is taken away in an instant when the prize he had fought so hard for was eaten by sharks, leaving Santiago with no spoils left to show for his hard fight. He was even so crushed by of the loss of the Marlin that he cried out to the sea "I am beaten.....hear stands a broken man" (234). Santiago still experienced success in the fashion that when he returned to port the little boy named Manolin that he had taught how to fish earlier in the novel was allowed to come back to fish with him. This was the ultimate form of success that was perceived for Santiago by Hemingway. To Jean Valjean in Les Misreables By: Victor Hugo , Valjean's success was represented in the form of going from convict to loving father of a daughter. The little girl named Cosette may not have been his true daughter, but after he had had dinner with a bishop that had seen the possibility of good in he started the transformation of his life. he met Cosettes mother and vowed to save her daughter from the place where she was being kept. The success Valjean experienced was what made his character the man that he was. But to Willa Cather in My
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Antonia's form of success is mandated by the way she follows the path in life that has been laid out before her. She by nature was a country girl. She only visited Denver once, and for the majority of her life she stayed in and around Black Hawk and Lincoln. She lived out the way of life that was most natural to her. She was so driven by that success that she had achieved that she became a mother prematurely. But she is so driven to follow her path that not even becoming a mother early could stop her from following her path. (320) " Father Kelly says that every one is put into this world for something, and I know what I've got to do. I'm going to see that my little girl has a better chance than I ever had. I'm going to take care of that girl." and she does. She takes splendid care of the girl and marries a man named Cuzak. He is by his nature a city man. But that wouldn't stop Antonia from doing what she had set out to do. Become a mother and a harvenger of life. Jim visited Antonia later in life but there was a twenty year gap in the time that they saw or herd from each other. When Jim saw her next he noticed this (343) "As I confronted her, the changes grew less apparent to me, her identity stronger. She was there, in full vigor of her personality, battered but not diminished, looking at me, speaking to me in the husk, breathy voice I remember so well." She had been through so much during her life, she had birthed a child by her self, and gone on to over ten more. She brought life unto the desolate land. Not only children. She had created a farm with apples orchards, cattle, chickens and much more. She had brought life too the desolate landscape of untouched country. She had concord it along with her destiny. Through the sacrifices she made life had come to the new frontier.
Jim Burden sacrifices to gain the success that he has obtained. He gave up a life with Lena Lengard to get a higher education. He also gave up the option to go back to Black Halk so that he could go to new yourk to create a life for himself. He sacrafised a life with Antonia to further advance his life as a busisness man.
But he deffenatly regretted some of his sacrasfices. (321) " Do you know , Antonia, since I've been away, I think of you more often than of anyone else in this part of the world." Not only does he regrett having not being around her he regrettes passing up a life with her. (321) "I'd have liked to have you for a sweethart, or a wife.... or anything that a woman can be to a man." But this is not the first time he would sacrafice to gain a measure of success. (292, 294) "Then I told her I was going away....My Lincolen chapter closed abruptly." He gave up a already wounderfull and florishing relationship with Lena Lengard to go off with a professur of his called Cleric to Boston to continue the expansion of his edgucation. So that in turn he could become more successfull as he went on in life. Jim went on to gain his success. But it was a success that could have made him miserable. He went on to help build the country through the railway (Introduction) "He is legal counsel for one of the great Western railways..." He had a hard job but he also wasent around his home in New York often, (Intro.) "....and is often away from his office for weeks together ". If that wasent enough the sacrafices he had made in the past had cost him in the future. The romances he gave up would end him up with a meaningless mariage. (Intro.) "He did not like his wife.....but dissapointments have not changed him." But he eventually gains success that quells the voide that the many sacrafices left in his personage. But he found it with the family that Antonia had made. (368) " I found that I hated to leve these boys, with there pleasent voices and there fine heads and eyes." Not only did these boys become his suraget sons but he would come back for them and take them on outings with him (368) "Don't forget that you and Rudolph are going hunting with me up on the Niobrara next summer". Jim acchived his success, but never took large risks to get there. He played it safe and largely avoided adventure in his aquasition of success but it payed off for Jim Burden better than he could have ever imagined.
"Tiny Soderball was to lead the most adventerious life and to achive the most solid worldly success," Said Jim Burden (299). She truly was. But her success didn't come cheep. It cost her blood, sweat, and tears not to metion a few toes. She worked hard while she lived in black halk. She started her working carrier at the Boy's Home hotel in Black Halk to start. When she struk out on her own she went to seattle and built a lodging-house in seattle and during the time that she was running it she heard many a story about miners coming down from the northern territories with the stories of striking it rich. Thats when she realised the prospect of money " That daring, which nobody had ever suspected in her, awoke," (299). She decided to go for the glorey. She sold her busisness and set out for the alaskan territory, but not with out a little bit of help. "she went in the compony of a carpenter and his wife whom she had presuaded to go along with her" (300). The day she arived she herd a tale from a man claming that there had been a rich gold strike farther up river and with that she and her companions and around fifteen hundred people set out as well. But unfortunatly with in a few weeks her along with the droves of other people wer out of work. But this sparked Tineys busisness savy. (300) Tiny and the carpenter"s wife began to cook for them, in a tent. The miners gave her a bulding lot, and the carpenter put a log hotel for her." This not only inisated her busisness savy but helped her become extrodernaraly wealthy. After about ten years of being a hard core busisness woman she lost intrest in much of what she held dear for the majority of her life up to that point. (301) ....She said frankley that nothing intrested her much now but making money." Not much may have gotten her excited any more but she was still a good person at heart. (302) "Oh, she's just the same as she always was! She's careless, but she's level-headed.". Even though she had been in the harsh busisness world for many years she didn't let it get to her and depress her. (302) "She's the only person I know who never gets any older." Not only did Tiny live an adventorious life, she left a legacy behind her. She left her hotel in Alaska and her saylor house behind as well. Those are monuments to her work that will be left till long after Tiny's death. What she built will last long after Tiny Soderball has left.
Lena Lengard lead a life far diffrent from that of her friends. Her attention was not meaditly focused upon success, but upon men. Many of the elder women of Black Hawk belive the working girls of the town (Antonia, Lena, & Tiny) to be trouble, and rightly so. The elder ladies of the town saw the working girls as a problem for there daughters and granddaughters, the town girls. They precived this problem when they realised the working girls, especially Lena, were ganing the attention of the town boys and in turn drawing the boy's attention away from the young women of Black Hawk. Antonia, Tiny, and Lena accomplished this remarcably well. But no one could rival Lena. She never even had to say a word to keep any one of the town boys mesmorised, all Lena needed to rely on was her buity. But more than once her buity got her into quite the situiation (167) "Ole sliped out of the hitch- bar and lifted Lena on her horse.... that in it's self was shocking, a married man was not expected to do such things." As shocking to others as that was that incident did not come with out it's attempts at rectification. (168) "......Lena came bounding through the red grass as fast as her white legs could carry her. She ran straight in to the house and hid in Antonia's fathers bed. Marry was not far behind: she came right up to the door and made us feel how sharp her blade was, showing us very graphicaly just what she ment to do to Lena. At one time there was the posability of Lena marrying Jim Burden but Jim Decided to follow the path that had been laied out for him. But the path that Lena followed was true to what made up her caracter. She went on to be successfull her self. (298) "...While Lena Lengard , for whom people had always fortold trouble, was now the leading dressmaker of linkolen, much respected in Black Halk." But Lincolen was not what made her successfull. It was Tiny soderball in essence that made her success. Tiny knew of the exceptional quality of Lena's dresses. (301) "Tiny had persuaded Lena to come to San Francisco and go into busisness there." The quality of Lena's dresses caught the eye of the local women in San Francisco. They bought her creations and came back faithfully for talor made dresses for years to come. She may have followed the path true to her self but not the path true to man.
Man was placed on the earth to harvest it and make it fertile. To change it from a a blek and desolate to a livable and breathable home for people to live and build lives and famlies. Make fertile and then in the end die and reaturn to the earth. But mans purpos is not to just develop land to farms but to build socioty. To expand human kind to a more "evolved" state. To learn as much as we can. To connect people and to create community. Antonia achived this by creating a firtile land out of desolate prary. She not only created a living chunk of land amongst so much berin prery but she brought forth life unto the land. A close analogy is to god. He created the garden of eden which contaned every thing that was needed to sustane life. The farm that Antonia had created could sustane the life of her family.The garden of eden contaned everything that was needed for adam and eve needed to live. But all this conformed to the path that Antonia was to walk. She was put on this earth to create life, wether it be in the form of children or a farm. She was by nature a country girl. The man she married was a city person by nature. But the pull of her destiny was so strong upon her that not even her husband could keep her from the task farm and family. Antonias path was the closest path to the true path of man. Mans path was to create a home of the earth where they could propagate and pass on there knolage to there children and so forth. (320) " Father Kelly sais that everybody's put on this world for somthing and I know what I have to do" This is a quote of Antonia thatproves that she realises her path. She was to create life and she stated that is whast she would do. As stated above Antonia by deffinision was a country girl and Cusak was a city man but (367) "It did rather seem to me that Cusak had been the instrument of Antonias special mission" which brings us back to the quote on (320). Not even her husband could stop her from folowing the path that she was ment to follow. (338-39) " We were standing outside talking, when they all came running up the steps together, big and little, tow heads and gold heads and brown" Antonia most certanly brought life to the world, but it is an anoligie to Antonia and how she brought fourth life from her woumb which in the quote (following) was the dark cave and brought them out into the light which was the world. (339) " ...... a veritable explosion of life out of the dark cave into the sunlight...." But this all still leaves you with the question so what? Willa Cather belives that women have options even in her day. Now a days her beliefs in women still apply. But now there are many more options avalable to women.