My Antonia Passage Analysis

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In My Antonia, young Jim Burden moves to the Midwest prairie to live with his grandparents after his parents’ death. Whilst meeting the Shimerdas, a Bohemian immigrant family, Jim quickly befriends their daughter Antonia. The two remain friends all the way through their childhood. In adolescence, Jim and his grandparents move to Black Hawk, a nearby small town. Later, Antonia moves to the town as a “hired girl”, keeping house for Jim’s neighbors. Town life wears at Antonia and Jim’s innocence—Antonia capers with young men at a local dancing tent, and Jim flirts with pretty Bohemian immigrant Lena Lingard. Later at college, Jim’s secret love for Lena and close friendship with her distract him from his studies. Escaping to Harvard for renewed…show more content…
At first glance, it seems like an aimless reminiscence by a starry-eyed boy about a romanticized girl. But as the novel progresses, it becomes so much more. Antonia coarsens as she works like a man in the fields, cavorts with the boys in town, and eventually unmarried motherhood. These incidents only reveal that the story is not about Antonia’s perfection—it is about the old country and her fierce devotion to it. Antonia’s poor choices made her a “battered woman”, but returning to the country replenished the “rich mine of life” in her soul and made her as insurmountable as “the founders of early races” (Cather, 127). The suffering and starvation of her first winter on the prairie, ending in her father’s suicide, never diminished Antonia’s love for the country. And now Jim could see the literal fruits of her labor. Her life exhibited “the goodness of planting and tending and harvesting at last” (Cather, 127). Antonia planted seeds of kindness, freedom, and hope everywhere she went. “Tireless in serving generous emotions” (Cather, 127), Antonia freely gave her love, attention, and self to everyone she met. She loved the Harling children as her own. She served Jim’s grandparents as if she was their bondservant. Whatever she did, she did wholeheartedly, tending the seeds of love and hope she had planted. And this did not fail her, for at long last she harvested the love, admiration, and respect of everyone around
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