My Antonia Imagery Essay

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Willa Cather, an American author, achieved much recognition on her frontier works. She earned much acknowledgement in her work of My Antonia. Raised on a primitive farm in Nebraska, Cather uses her experiences of the landscape to transform the senses of her readers. Cather demonstrates her ability to capture the feeling of the prairie at the end of the “Hired Girls.” (“Presently we saw… somewhere on the prairie.” Page 146-147) Not only is this scene an important image of the moment, but the representation of this plow amongst the setting sun as well. The image of the plow in front of the sinking sun is very prominent throughout the book. Though the plow could simply represent a plow or the sun just a sun, Cather puts much more depth into it. She creates a mental picture that appeals to the readers senses. Cather emphasizes the “gold-washed sky” and “horizontal light.” She creates vivaciousness into the mind. The warmth that the sun gives off made Jim feel joy and the love for his country. Cather includes how the setting sun embellishes a red hue around the plow. Red makes Jim feel the passion and affection he has for Antonia and the land he grew up on. It reminds him of the fire and life he had as a kid and remembers the love of life itself. The plow as a silhouette against the setting sun shows its enormity and massiveness. The plow casts a shadow along the fields, creating the impression of a much larger plow than in reality. The plow has changes not only Antonia’s life, but the fields as well. It transforms the ground, from something hard and tough, to fertile soil used for farming to create something new and beautiful. If the plow was not placed in front of the sun, the plow would still look smaller and irrelevant. As the sun continues to set, the shadows diminish. Although the symbolism of the plow is significant, it pales in comparison to the endless fields. The plow settles “back to its own littleness.” It is no match to the beauty of Mother Nature....
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