The Growth of My Antonia
Nebraska, the Cornhusker state, the state that most people tend to forget, yet ironically is also the setting for one of the most unforgettable love novels in America. Willa Cather writes My Antonia, setting it in the image of her hometown. In it, she formulates her memories into an extraordinary love story where two people have a bond stronger than love, stronger than that of husband and wife. In doing so, she creates a character that is not only strong but also lovable by all; a character name Antonia. Throughout the course of My Antonia, Willa Cather develops Antonia Shirmerdas into a character of strength and integrity through her experience as young immigrant, as a hired girl and eventually as a pioneer woman. As a young girl living in a place far from home, Antonia grows from an innocent young Bohemian into a rough American tomboy. When Jim first meets Antonia, she is still an angelic little girl with an optimistic feel of the world. Jim, at one point, recalls “what the conductor had said about her eyes. They were big and shiny, like the sun shining on brown pools in the wood” (Cather 17). She is always happy looks at things in the most positive way. After her father’s death, however, Antonia and her family are faced with a financial crisis, and Antonia is forced to work to fill the gap left by her father. With only a few months of manual labor, Antonia’s appearance completely changes. As Mrs. Burden states, “she was a tall, strong young girl, although her 15th birthday had just slipped by. She wore her father’s boots, his old fur cap, and her outgrown cotton dress switched about her calves, over the boot-top. She kept her sleeves rolled up all day, and her arms and throat was burned as brown as a sailor’s. Her neck came stronger out of her shoulders, like a bole of a tree out of the turf” (Cather 70). Without any prior knowledge, one would think that Mrs. Burden is describing a burly boy; but indeed, it was Antonia. Working on...
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