Willa Cather

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In her great works, O Pioneers! and My Ántonia, Willa Cather tells the story of the immigrant pioneer in America. “Willa Cather was born in 1873 in Virginia. When she was a child, her family moved to Nebraska . . . novels as My Ántonia, O Pioneers! . . . are derived from immigrant experiences on the nineteenth-century Nebraska prairie.” (Hooper, 2009) According to Hooper’s essay, Cather’s upbringing as an outsider on the prairie inspired her to write about immigrants. She herself felt like an immigrant. Virginia and Nebraska are opposites in almost every way. She could relate to the immigrants. (Hopper, 2009) In her great works, O Pioneers! and My Ántonia, Willa Cather tells the story of the immigrant pioneer in America. In these two books,
“the theme is the struggle of some elect individual to outgrow the restrictions laid upon him-- or more frequently her-- by numbing circumstances. Pioneers and artists, in Miss Cather’s understanding of their natures, are practically equals in single-mindedness; at least they work much by themselves, contending with definite though ruthless obstacles and looking forward, if they win, to a freedom which cannot be achieved int he routine of crowded communities.” (Bryforski, 150, 1987)

Cather writes of the perils that many immigrants face when living in America for the first time. According to Byrforski, “her high-hearted pioneers survive half as curiosities in a new order; and their spirits, transmitted to the artists who are their legitimate successors, take up the old struggle for a new guise.” (Bryforski, 150, 1987) In My Ántonia and O Pioneers!, Cather uses the land metaphorically. She “ offers a land myth and a noble land goddess to rule it: a noble creature, strong, patient, robust, sensitive, and enduring, who undergoes a symbolic courtship with the land.” (Bryforski, 162, 1987) This land goddess that Bryforski speaks of helps the immigrant pioneer to adapt to their new life in the United States by becoming



Cited: Bryforski, Dedric. Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1987. Hooper, Brad. "Death Comes for the Archbishop." Gale. Gale Group, 15 Apr. 2009. Web. 3 Apr. 2012. < http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA198412645&v=2.1&u =lap0 9cpsb&it=r&p=GPS&sw=w>

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