Country vs. City
In the novel My Antonia by Willa Cather, Antonia Shimerda and Lena Lingard share a few similarities: they are both immigrants to America; they are both in their own way very beautiful women; and they are both very independent and accomplished women. However, they differ in personal appearance, lifestyle, and values.
Antonia was very beautiful as a young girl, but as the years have passed, the struggles she has faced growing up in her life show in her outward appearance. She is missing teeth and her looks are rough, but just the same, she is a beautiful person on the inside. Antonia would rather struggle though life than to sacrifice her own independence. One such time would be when the Harlings told Antonia that she would have to stop going to the dances or she could find another place of employment. Antonia’s reply was “Then I’ll just leave, Mrs. Harling. Mary Svoboda’s going away from the Cutter’s to work at the hotel and I can have her place” (133). As Antonia ages, she ends up back out on the farm where she feels the most at home. She marries and ends up raising a big family and teaching her children to help work on the farm.
In contrast, Lena Lingard has steadily remained beautiful on the outside. She has a constant desire to be sophisticated and remain pretty. She craves a lot of excitement, which can’t be found on the prairie. Lena has become a very accomplished dressmaker and so she tends to dress very businesslike. Due to her ease and love of dressmaking, she has become very admired for her work. Lena also makes a vow that she will never marry because as she says “when I went to work for Mrs. Thomas I was nineteen years old, and I had never slept a night in my life when there weren’t three in the bed. I never had a minute to myself except when I was off with the cattle” (186). Lena had spent so much of her childhood being the older sibling. She was always caring for her younger siblings, helping to wash them,...
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