Short Story Analysis: A Wagner Matinee

Good Essays
Asia Roper
English 1020, sec. 01
October 1, 2014
Short story essay

During the 1800's there was an increase in immigration to the Great Plains due to an abundance of free land offered by the Homestead Act. Many individuals and families went west to seek their fortune and a home on what was once called the great American desert. Moving westward was a difficult process, and many were forced to leave their old lives behind completely. In "A Wagner Matinee," written by Willa Cather, the characterization of Aunt Georgiana, a woman who leaves Boston to elope with a young man going west, is used to illustrate the theme; that sometimes decisions need to be made, and although one might regret it, one love must be sacrificed for another.
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Georgiana's statements throughout the novel also support the theme of regret and sacrifice. Clark recalls a time when Georgiana opens her soul to him, and says "Don't love it so well Clark, or it may be taken from you. Oh! Dear boy, pray that whatever your sacrifice be it is not that." By saying this she is referring to, of course music. Her advice to not "love it so well" is intensely pessimistic, influenced by the great pain she suffered when she gave up her life ambition. Later in the only conversation that Clark and Georgiana share at the concert, she remorsefully makes reference to the music they are enjoying. "And you've been hearing this ever since you left me, Clark?" she asks. Clark calls the question "the gentlest and saddest of reproaches". When she says this she is almost jealous of her nephew. Her wistful remembrance and longing is made clear through her words. Finally, at the end of the concert, she bursts into tears and cries out "I don't want to go Clark, I don't want to go!” This is a very direct and clear example that her longing for the music she sacrificed is terrible and

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