My Antonia Essay

My Antonia Term paper

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My Antonia In My Antonia, Willa Cather emphasizes the importance of the past through Jum Burden s narration. Jim Burden realizes at the conclusion of the novel how much he enjoyed his childhood days and how much his memories mean to him. There are three events that Cather included in the novel which contribute greatly to the overall theme, concerning the importance of the past. One event is in Chapter II of Book III. Jim decides to write about his youth in Nebraska as Vergil has just done. As he is thinking about this, Lena Lingard comes to the door and he is excited to see her. Once again he begins to think about the past. Even after she left, just her presence had impacted his life, which adds to the importance of the past in this novel. Earlier in the chapter Jim is studying Latin and reads the line Optima dies prima fugit. Translated as the best days flee first, Jim begins to think of the past. This is the main theme of the novel, and Jim is just beginning to realize how important his past was. One more scene appears as the story comes to a conclusion in the last chapter of the last book. Jim has just left Antonia after visiting for the first time in thirty years. He spends a day in Black Hawk that ends in a disappointment since none of his childhood friends are around. Walking out to the edge of town, he finds a half-mile stretch of the old wagon-road which used to run like a wild thing across the open prairie. The memory of his first ride over that road comes to him strongly. Now he feels that this road has brought him and Antonia back together. It is "the road of Destiny" along which their lives have traveled. Another event appears in chapter 14 of book II. Antonia and Jim are having a picnic by the river. It is an important event for many reasons. First, the past is brought up, when Antonia says, It would be like old times. The reader can only be reminded of the events that have taken place in Book I. For example when Jim walks two miles towards the river. At the riverbank he takes a swim and realizes how much he will miss this river once he goes off to college. Jim skated, swam and fished on this river throughout his childhood. Second, it is the last shared afternoon of Jim and Antonia's youth. Throughout their youth, Jim and Antonia share a number of memorable moments, like the time when Jim teaches Antonia how to read. However, this is their last day together in their childhood. Soon, Jim will be going away to college so the future is near. Then, he finds Antonia crying because she is looking at overhanging bushes that remind her of Bohemia. It makes me homesick, Jimmy, this smell We have this flower very much at home, in the old country. It always grew in our yard You think, Jimmy that maybe my father's spirit can go back to those old places? This conversation is the defining moment in their relationship. They now realize the affection they have for each other. "Antonia had the most trusting, responsive eyes in the world ;love and credulousness seemed to look out of them with open faces." By thinking of all the pleasant times Jim and Antonia have shared, the reader is able to realize the importance of their past. It is obvious that Willa Cather chose the above scenes to communicate the theme of My Antonia. The events help the reader understand how important the past is and how one must never let go of something or someone that is loved. Jim writes as he leaves Antonia for good, Whatever we had missed, we possessed together the precious, the incommunicable past.

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