My Antonia Essay

My Antonia Essay

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Welcome to Nebraska, the land of plentiful plains and endless adventure. or in Willa Cather’s case, the setting in which she introduces her readers to the two main characters of her novel, My Antonia. The compelling relationship between Jim Burden and Antonia Shimerda makes it impossible for their similarities and differences to go unnoticed. Both move to Nebraska, but their outlooks of the situation differ drastically. The roles that Jim and Antonia play in each others lives help them grow immensely throughout the story but the ways that they view each other remain nothing alike. As the two characters grow, they become distracted at times by the opposite sex, these different scenarios teach them both similar lessons and bring them to see each other again. Jim and Antonia moving to Nebraska gave the author the opportunity to show their characters on the same level, both starting over simultaneously. Here Cather allows us to see the difference in how the two perceive the new start as well as life in general. Jim feels as though he has been uprooted and has deserted everything that he knows to be real, even the memory of his parents, “I have left even their spirits behind me. The wagon jolted on, carrying me I knew not wither”. (8) This shows us that Jim feels alone and is uncertain of what to expect. Antonia on the other hand view the move as a new opportunity. Although she fears the impact it will have on her fathers health she see it as a chance for her and her family to prevail in a new land. When the characters are introduced Jim immediately begins to develop and infatuation with Antonia that strengthens throughout the story. At first Antonia does not treat Jim as someone on her own level which Jim resents. Eventually Jim proves to her that is mature regardless of their age difference by killing a snake. “ I never know you was so brave, Jim,” she went on comfortingly. “ You is just like big mans ;you wait for him lift his head and then you go for him. Ain’t you feel scared a bit? Now we take that snake home and show everybody.”(32) This is the main turning point in the way Antonia treats Jim, she now respects him more and views him as more of and adult. Jim goes on to express his feelings on her reaction, “She went on in this strain until I began to think that I had longed for this opportunity, and had hailed it with joy.” (32) Throughout the story Antonia and Jim become closer, Jim continues to reflect back to Antonia showing that he looks at her as the ideal woman, she is his crutch. Her strong morals and values remain intriguing to Jim and encourage him in everything that he pursues. In turn Jim assists Antonia in adjusting to the many changes she endures. Although Jim’s dependency on Antonia is indirect it is still very comparable to the role he plays in her life. Eventually Antonia and Jim grow up and begin to pursue their goals. Antonia stays in the country while Jim goes of to the big city to attend Harvard University. Antonia has fallen for Larry Donovan, a train conductor. In spite of the fact that everyone else can see that Larry is misleading Antonia she remains oblivious. Eventually Larry moves to Denver and brings Antonia, promising her marriage. He soon spends all of her money and gets her pregnant leaving her, only to return to Nebraska and have her baby. Antonia returns to her old hard working ways and refrains from dwelling on the situation. Meanwhile, studying at Harvard Jim is reunited with an old friend from Nebraska, Lena Lingard. Lena and Jim become romantically involved which begins to distract Jim from his studies. Jim realizes soon enough that despite her kindness Lena is the reason for his distance from his schooling and decides to end their affair. Before they say their good-byes Jim tells Lena how well she has treated him,”You’ve been just awfully good to me, Lena,” I blurted. “I don’t think about much else. I shall never think about much else while I’m with you. I’ll never settle down and grind if I stay here. You know that.”(187) Quite some time passes , before Antonia and Jim are reunited but it is apparent that their experiences have affected them. A story of two friends, so much alike yet with noticeable differences as well. They start over together but from there they begin to grow, grow together, grow distant, grow fond, and grow stronger with each other.

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