Progressive Themes In Willa S. Cather's My Antonia

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My Ántonia is a novel originally published in 1918 under the author Willa S. Cather. The novel is often considered a modernist literary work because of the numerous progressive themes it highlights, as well as its unconventional characters. The novel is the memoir of the author’s fictional friend, Jim Burden, who reflects on the history of his lifelong friendship with an immigrant girl by the name of Ántonia. As both narrator and protagonist of the novel, a much older Jim reflects on the life he lived in Nebraska, and the dear friend he made in it. At the age of 10, Jim Burden is orphaned after both of his parents meet an unexplained death. Jim is forced to leave his “home country” of Virginia and move to Black Hawk, Nebraska, where his grandparents are waiting to care for him. An immigrant family from Bohemia have…show more content…
The novel also shows the reader a positive aspect of immigrant life and work ethic in a part of American history that otherwise would not have shared an immigrant’s story at all. Many immigrants were coming to America from countries all over Europe durning the 18th and late 19th century. As it is in real life, Immigrant families in My Ántonia gravitated to America because of the promise of better circumstances, “…America big country; much money, much land for my boys, much husband for my girls.” (Pg. 37). Nebraska, which was mostly unsettled at the time, would of been one of the main targets for immigrants interested in pursuing the “American Dream” by settling the western frontier. Nativism was often a response to the ever growing presence of immigration in the west. In My Ántonia, the author shows her admiration for immigrants—as well as their determination—for the numerous barriers that they had to cross to succeed, often more so than the native-born American
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