27 February 2015
A. Thesis Statement: Both Cather and Twain use the archetypical terrible mother, river, and wise old man in their novels and these usages help to demonstrate the universality of archetypes: a reoccurring motif in literature that is used as a literary device to convey a wealth of meaning. B. In Huckleberry Finn and My Antonia, the archetypical terrible mother is used in similar but also different ways, where one is an older woman too intolerant of those who are unreligious to properly teach and help raise a young boy, and a young woman who is too open-minded and could never settle down to a life as awful as family life. The terrible mother archetype is defined as “the worst type of maternal figure” and Miss Watson in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Lena in My Antonia are prime examples. These women showcase different types of terrible mothers. Miss Watson, on one hand, is impatient, and when she speaks to Huck, she gives only demands, such as when she says “‘don’t put your feet up there, Huckleberry;’ and ‘don’t scrunch up like that, Huckleberry—set up straight;’” (2). Miss Watson is not the “mothering-type” as in she is not nurturing or warmhearted. She is extremely stringent, especially when talking about her religion. After attempting to teach Huck about Heaven and Hell, Huck decides that there is “no advantage in going where she was going” (3). Instead of teaching Heaven to be a type of utopia, she just calls it a place where Huck cannot be his young and playful self. A different type of terrible mother, yet a terrible mother nonetheless, is demonstrated in the character of Lena. Lena is an insouciant, young woman who believes that “‘men are all right for friends, but as soon as [one] marr[ies] them they turn into cranky old fathers, even the wild ones. They begin to tell [the wife] what's sensible and what's foolish, and want [the wife] to stick at home all the...
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