Willa Cather's Characterization Technique in Neighbor Rosicky

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Willa Cather's Characterization Technique in Neighbor Rosicky

" Neighbor Rosicky ", written in 1928 and collected in the volume Obscure Destinies

in 1932, is generally considered one of Willa Cather's most successful short stories. It

is a character study of Anton Rosicky, a man who, facing the approach of death, reflects on

the meaning and value of his life. In tracing Rosicky's journey from Bohemia to

Nebraska,Cather explores the intimate relationship between people and the paces they inhabit.

The story also celebrates the small triumphs of life. ( Wilson 1)

The protagonist, Neighbor Rosicky is presented from the point of view of an observer,

an omniscient narrator, who enters the consciousness of several different characters and sees

the world from their point of view . Rosicky's person evokes sympathy of the reader and

appreciation of human drama from Cather's part. She has a very careful way of drawing the

character and exploits all the usual methods of characteriztion technique, through which she

creates "a hero that can be examined from all sides, as a rare object in the middle of the table"

(Seargent 139). Nevertheless, the essense
of the character is given by the extremely deep

psychology applied by Cather.

As we can see while reading the story we are given a lot of information referring to the

character of Rosicky: dialogs between characters, their actions, others' descriptions provide a

clear picture how should we imagine Cather's hero. Dialogue is often used to display the

interaction between the family members and friends. Through these we get the feeling of the

endearing qualities of their family life. From the dialog between Anton and Dr.

Burleigh, the family's doctor and very good friend, we learn that he has problems with his

health and that he must be a well-known and liked person in his community. We are led

further when we enter his warm and very lively family. Their dialogs introduce us a strong,

vivid, wise personality in Rosicky's person, but altogether a caring, sympathetic, generous

one. We also find out how beloved he is to his family when his wife goes to see the doctor so

that she can get the real scoop on his condition. Their life-style, their relation to one another

suggests that they all aspire to a harmonic and peaceful life. Rosicky's individual spiritual

harmony and fulfillment reflects that he is conforted with his life's personal victory: fulfilled

his dream of having a beautiful family and to remain attached to his roots – having his own

land and cultivating alfalfa provided the freedom to pursue a true happy life. Rosicky is not

cared for only by his family. When telling the diagnosis about his heart, the doctor seems to

be really worried about his old friend, even more concerned because he is aware that how

hard can be for a man who was active all through his life that now he has to slow down and

give in. I think Rosicky finds hard to handle this situation not only for dignity but because he

doesn't want to let his family to struggle without his help.

" I don't like no old man hanging round the kitchen too much. An' my wife, she's a awful

hard worker her own self. "

And again we get a clear picture about Rosicky's family from himself as well and from Dr.

Ed: "My Lord, Rosicky, you are one of the few men I know who has a family he can get

some comfort out of; happy dispositions, never quarell among themselves, and they treat you

right. I want to see you live afeww years and enjoy them."

It is really moving how he talks about his oldest son and his daughter in law, an American

girl, Polly. "yes, she's a fine girl... Polly got lots of spunk, an' she got some style, too. Da's

nice , for young folks to have some style. – Rosicky inclined his head galantly. His voice and

his twinkly smile were an affectionate...
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