A Wagner Matinee by Willa Cather

Powerful Essays
Topics: Willa Cather
There are several purposes Willa Cather has in her short story, "A Wagner Matinee." The two main purposes of this story are to entertain the reader and to reveal a theme. Before discussing theses purposes, back ground on Cather will be given so as to gain as better understanding and appreciation for her writing.

Willa Sibert Cather was born December 7th, 1873 on a small farm in Back Creek Valley near Winchester, Virginia. Her mother and father, Mary and Charles Cather, had seven children, Willa being the oldest. The family moved to the immigrant village of Red Cloud, Nebraska in 1883. Cather grew up around many different cultures from Europe and was, therefore, exposed to the harsh realities of new life on the Great Plains at an early age (Webster 's 69). Cather 's grandmothers educated her because there no schools close enough for her to attend. They taught her many things including Latin and Classic English literature. Her first literary influence was Virgil (Twentieth 257).

To pay her way through college, Cather took a job with the Pittsburgh Leader. Some have speculated that this caused her to become a realist as an author (Downs 54). From 1906-1912 Cather was the managing editor of McClure 's Magazine. According to Ida Tarbell, Cather didn 't like the magazine 's " 'muckraking ' and crusading methods" and eventually quit (Twentieth 258). According to her obituary in the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, one of Cather 's friends once said, "She did her work, did it well, and let it go at that. She avoided the limelight" (Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph 1).

According to Twentieth Century Authors, Cather 's books can be divided by subject:Her novels may be divided into three groups: those dealing with the West, and particularly with foreign-born farmers…; those short stories and novelettes… and deal mostly with artists and sophisticated Easterners; and those, merging into almost legend, which evidence her interest in Roman Catholicism… (Twentieth 258).

Cather believed that



Cited: And Death Comes for Willa Cather, Famous Author." Pittsburgh Sun-TelegraphApril 25, 1947: 1-2. Downs, M. Catherine. Becoming Modern: Willa Cather 's Journalism. New York:Susquehanna University Press, 1999. Kinsella, Kate, et. Al. Prentice Hall Literature: The American Experience. Boston:Penguin Edition, 2007. The Public Media Foundation. "Historical and Literal Contexts." James A. Miller. Scribbling Women. 2007. The Public Media Foundation at Northeastern University College of Arts and Sciences. 3/9/08. Genevieve Netz. "Pioneer Life on the Prairie: A Wagner Matinee."Genevieve Netz. Prairie Bluestem. 3/19/07. Blogspot.3/9/08. Ostwalt, Conrad Eugene. After Eden: The Secularization of Willa Cather andTheodore Dreiser. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1990. Various Authors. " A Wagner Matinee." Christine Stelle. Wikipedia. 1/21/08. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Wagner_Matinee>"Willa Cather." Twentieth Century Authors. 1942 ed. "Willa Cather." Webster 's Dictionary of American Authors. 1995 ed.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Powerful Essays

    “A Journey through Life” Life is all about choices. Even the simplest choice could turn a situation around and further affect the future of an individual forever. I found Willa Cather’s short story “A Wagner Matinee” very interesting. It deals with different levels of choices, some which might affect the character’s life slightly, while other choices may affect their entire lifetime. The way the story is written makes the reader think a lot…

    • 2538 Words
    • 11 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    A Wagner Matinee

    • 519 Words
    • 3 Pages

    A Wagner Matinee Willa Cather Within a lifetime there are many decisions you have to make. In my lifetime there have not been many big decisions but I have always been reminded that choices you make now will affect you forever. My family has always taught me that you may have only one chance to make the right choice, so choose wisely. Most of the time my father will tell me that I have to make my choice by what my heart tells me and what…

    • 519 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Better Essays

    Willa Cather

    • 1317 Words
    • 6 Pages

    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…

    • 1317 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Willa Cather

    • 1985 Words
    • 8 Pages

    In 1896, Cather moved to Pittsburgh after being hired to write for the Home Monthly,[8] a women's magazine patterned after the successful Ladies Home Journal.[9] A year later, she became a telegraph editor and drama critic for the Pittsburgh Leader and frequently contributed poetry and short fiction to The Library, another local publication. In Pittsburgh, she taught Latin, algebra, and English composition[10] at Central High School for one year. She next taught English and Latin at Allegheny High…

    • 1985 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    A Wagner Matinee Analysis

    • 419 Words
    • 2 Pages

    In the short stories, "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin and "A Wagner Matinee" by Willa Cather a similar theme is portrayed about women’s role. Both stories include the main female role giving up something of great significance in her life. For instance, in "The Story of an Hour", Mrs. Mallard gives up her freedom when marrying her husband. In the same manner, in "A Wagner Matinee", Aunt Georgiana gave up her passion and love for music by eloping and moving to Nebraska. Here she would spend…

    • 419 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Vicki Glenn ENG 232 Mr. O September 26, 2011 “A Wagner Matinee” It has been said that, "Sacrificing your happiness for the happiness of the one you love is by far, the truest type of love.” However, walking away from everything that makes you happy in life, in order for another to be happy should not be required of love. Relationships should be built on mutual respect and consideration for one another. Although compromise in a relationship is a necessary component for its success, denying the core…

    • 1687 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Willa Cather Biography

    • 610 Words
    • 3 Pages

    something complete and great” (Norris). Willa Cather’s headstone has this quote etched into it. Some believe that by this definition of happiness, that the author received a great deal of it. She is known for being an amazing writer that has influenced many creations after her time. Cather’s early life, college life, influences in her writing, and her accomplishments and awards are all a part of what made her an amazing writer. Part of what made Willa Cather acquire happiness was the experiences…

    • 610 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    the time. These authors portrayed women from a realist’s point of view, making faults and troubles evident. Authors like Willa Cather, Kate Chopin, and Sarah Orne Jewett were able to portray the struggles a woman would have in the time in a way nobody else had dared to. Willa Cather was an author who wrote about the woman’s place in society in “A Wagner Matinee.” Cather criticized the way women were forced to give up their passions for their husband and family.…

    • 578 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    somewhere"). Many people in life come upon the problem of thinking they found love, but actually lose another love in the process. Willa Cather employs this situation as she uses the character Aunt Georgiana to illustrate how Georgiana must do this while pursuing the love of a man in her famous short story “A Wagner Matinée.” On top of Aunt Georgiana losing love, Cather implements the facts of the hard life people on the frontier have to live. Aunt Georgiana gives up her true love of music for the…

    • 953 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    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…

    • 872 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays