My Antonia is a book about realism of the late 19th and early 20th century. The Webster's Dictionary defines Realism as "Picturing and seeing people and things as they really are." That is what this book does ;it shows "people as they really are." It does not glamorize what pioneer life was like. It tells us the hardships that these people dealt with, and gives us the sense of the meaning of family and friendship they had. Because without friends and family sticking together as a whole then, they could not get through the hard times alone. In my paper on My Antonia, I will attempt to show the symbolism and meaning of the main characters of the novel. I will also attempt to show the meaning and significance of the novel. I will attempt to show the theme and how this time era is different from what we are used to living today. The two main characters in this novel are Jim Burden and Antonia Shermerda. They are the symbolic level of this novel. Jim lost both of his parents in Virginia and has come to live in a whole new world on his grandfather's homestead in Nebraska. When leaving Virginia, he was leaving his old life and the life of his parents behind. Antonia is a young immigrant girl that leaves her old country with her family, in hopes of a better life on the plains of Nebraska. In some ways, the life of these two people share similarities only found with fate, but in other ways their fate is not always the answer ;something else drives them in different directions. Some examples of their differences are their home life and education. In education, Jim has more educational resources available to him than Antonia, because Jim is able to go to school and learn things to carry him far in life, while Antonia has to stay at home to work on her family's farm. Socially, Antonia does not have life easier than Jim, but that doesn't stop her from having a family and doing something in her life, she never stops working hard and that is a great tool to have in life. She never gives up hope, for the fact that she understands and except things from other people, from the hard work that she has experienced in her own life. This is why she finds love that she is content with, and Jim goes through life and never marries his "soul mate," so the marriage is meaningless to him. The author of My Antonia is Willa Cather. She was born on December 7, 1873 in Back Creek, Virginia. At the age of nine, her family moved to their grandfather's homestead in Red Cloud, Nebraska. She was left alone most of the time due to her mother's frail health. This left her to make choices on her own. Willa rode her pony, discovering the prairie and visiting with immigrants from Norway, Sweden and Bohemia. She would visit with them in their dugouts and sodhouses, listening to them tell stories of their childhood life in their old country. She did not go to school, but in the evenings she would read to her grandmother from the bible and other books in their home. Finally at the age of eleven, she began school in Red Cloud. At school she had teachers she admired and friends with great intellectual and artistic quality's that interested Willa greatly. Most of the people in Cather's life in Nebraska can be recognized in her writings. She attended the University of Nebraska and graduated in 1895. She worked for the Home Monthly and the Daily Leader in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A couple of years later she taught English and Latin at Allegheny, Pennsylvania. She moved to New York and became managing editor of McClures Magazine from 1906 to 1912. Cather continued her education at Nebraska in 1917, receiving honorary degrees from the University of Michigan, the University of California, and from Columbia, Yale and Princeton. Cather wrote many award winning poetry, short stories, essays and novels. In 1918 My Antonia was published, this is one of her best novels. In 1922 she won the Pulitzer Prize. Cather died on April 24, 1947 in New York. In 1961 Cather was the first women voted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame. My Antonia is a story of the American West, when a nation was first being discovered. The introduction tells us that the entire novel is based on "Things Remembered." Where the author and the narrator meet on a train in the Midwest and reminisce about their childhood days in Nebraska. Everything that is told in this story is like looking through their eyes. Discovering feelings about everything from their youth, will make you empathetic to their own experiences. In the first section of My Antonia "The Shimerdas," shows how the Shimerdas struggled there first year on the Nebraskan Prairie. Without the help from the Burdens, they couldn't of got through the first winter alone. The first section also shows us how Antonia and Jim first meet and how fate throws them together at the beginning. Together they learn to love the Nebraskan plains. The second section of the novel deals with life in Black Hawk. The Burdens move and Antonia comes along to be a cook for the Harlings. So even when Jim moves away, Antonia is right there. There fate keeps them together. We have little to no sight of Antonia in the third section of the novel. This part deals with Jim Burden at the University of Nebraska. This is where he meets Lena Lingard and they have an affair. The love Jim has for Antonia is put aside. Jim is going home in the summer from Harvard in the fourth section of the novel. Antonia is Jim's way of remembering his childhood, because of the same experiences they had to deal with in life. When he returns to his grandparents homestead, after being gone for so long he learns of Antonia's fate. She had fallen in love with a railroad conductor and gone off the Denver to marry him, but he had not married her. For the reason that he had already lost his job, and ran off to Mexico. Leaving her pregnant and alone. Antonia goes back to her brother's farm to work on the land again. Jim learns all this, and the birth of Antonia's baby, from Mrs. Stevens, who rents the Burdens' old farm. Antonia is left alone in the fields of Nebraska. The fifth and final section of the novel holds an appropriate symbolic quality, because Antonia Marries a Bohemian immigrant and raises a family that only speaks Czech. Her fate to end up where she started is an important aspect of the novel's theme.