My Antonia By Willa Cather: Personal Narrative Analysis

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Imagine huddling with your family, trapped under feet of snow and with dwindling supplies of food in the winter. Imagine working for hours on end in the 120 degree weather in the summer. Imagine watching you and your family wither away in inhuman conditions. These were some of the many perils the early American settlers faced. Winter and summer formed a doubled-edged sword. In addition, periods of drought, rainstorms, tornadoes, swarms of grasshoppers could destroy fields of crops. For experienced farmers it was a Herculian task to build a home and establish a farm, but the free land, abundant wildlife, and the rich soil was so enticing, the opportunity hard to resist. My Antonia by Willa Cather embodies not just the physical hardships,…show more content…
Jim’s motive for writing his story is to try to reestablish some connection between his present as a New York lawyer and his vanished past on the Nebraska prairie. Additionally, within the narrative itself, other characters often look back longingly toward a past that they have lost. When Mr. Shimerda survey the squalor his family lived in, Mr. Shimerda believed ‘that peace and order had vanished from the earth,” or existed only “in the old world he had left so far behind.”() Living in Black Hawk, Jim and Ántonia recall their days on the farms; Lena looks back toward her life with her family; the Shimerdas and the Russians reflect on their lives in their respective home countries before they immigrated to the United States.The two principal qualities that the past seems to possess for most of the characters in the novel are that it is unrecoverable and that it is, in some way, preferable to the present. Antonia misses life in Bohemia just as Jim the lawyer misses life in Nebraska, but neither can possibly return. This impossibility may have been autobiographical as well, informed by Cather’s own longing for her Nebraska childhood. Since if the past can never be recovered, it can never be escaped, either, and Jim is fated to go on thinking about Black Hawk long after he has left

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