My Antonia Essay, Research Paper
My Antonia takes place mostly in the countryside in Nebraska. Many events happen because of this location. Russian Pavel is wounded working in the country, later he dies. Mr. Shimerda commits suicide because he is not used to country living and does not like it. The main characters move to Black Hawk, a nearby town to their farm, only to return to the country in end.
Jim Burden, the narrator of the novel, comes to Nebraska to live with his grandparents. He spends a few years on his grandparent’s farm then they move to Black Hawk. While on the farm he becomes a good friend to a Bohemian immigrant girl, Antonia Shimerda.
Antonia, who is a few years older than Jim, arrives at Nebraska with her family at the same time as Jim. They grow up together as neighbors until the Burdens move to Black Hawk. Jim is unable to keep in contact with Antonia like they used too on the farm when she assumes a great deal of responsibilities after the death of her father. Eventually Antonia moves to Denver with her fianc? and Jim goes off to college.
Jim had first arrived in Nebraska at the age of ten, when he made the trip west to live with his grandparents after finding himself orphaned in Virginia. On this same train, Jim has his first glimpse of the Shimerdas, a Bohemian immigrant family traveling in the same direction.
The Shimerdas took up residence in a neighboring farm to the Burdens’. Jim makes fast friends with the Shimerda children, especially Antonia who is eager to learn English. At her father’s request, Jim begins to tutor Antonia, and the two of them spend much of the autumn exploring their new landscape together.
Not long after Christmas, tragedy strikes with the suicide of Mr. Shimerda. After an emotional funeral, the Shimerdas retreat into despair, and the Burdens struggle to be as accommodating as possible. Because of the hardships that the Shimerdas suffer, Antonia and Jim grow apart.
A couple of years later, the Burdens decide to move into town, and shortly thereafter, Antonia takes a job as a housekeeper with a neighboring family, the Harling. Jim begins to see more of Antonia again, especially when a dancing pavilion comes to town and enlivens the social situation.
Jim’s high school years quickly end, and he is offered a spot at the university in Lincoln. He makes a great success of commencement speech, and spends the summer hard at work in preparation for his course of study. Before leaving, he takes one last trip out countryside with Antonia and her friends, where they gather to reminisce about the old times together.
In Lincoln, Jim throws himself into his studies, which take up the majority of his time in the first year and a half of his course. In the spring of his second year, he begins to see Lena Lingard, an old friend of Antonia and his, a lot. After several months of theater going and flirting around town, Jim decides he needs to make a fresh start and transfers to Harvard to finish out college.
While away, Antonia gets engaged to a local boy, and makes a move out to Denver in order to be with him. Days before the wedding, he abandons her, and she returns to Nebraska heartbroken. She covers up an unexpected pregnancy throughout its term, but in giving birth to a daughter incurs the disapproval of her family. However, she resolves to take care of her baby, and continues to work on the farm with her brother.
After graduating from college, in the summer before entering law school, Jim returns to Nebraska to be with his grandparents. Upon hearing of Antonia’s situation, he decides to drive out to the countryside and visit her. They spend a happy day together reliving old times, and Jim parts with a promise to revisit her soon.
My Antonia has many conflicts both internal–man vs. himself, and external–man vs. man. The internal conflict, man vs. himself, is demonstrated when Mr. Shimerda commits suicide. The external conflict, man vs. man is shown when Antonia and Jim have a big argument then go their separate ways for a long time before meeting again.
The close relation between man and landscape is a major theme in My Antonia. Jim is especially sensitive toward his environment to the point where he gives human qualities to the world around him. Example, because of the deficiency of trees in the area, Jim remarks that “we used to feel anxious about them, and visit them as if they were persons.”
At other times, aspects of the landscape come to represent for Jim an emotion or an idea. Although Jim realizes that botanists have demonstrated the sunflower sends in the area on their flight westward. The romantic legend supercedes the scientific fact, and Jim keeps the landscape to himself as something to dream about, but not to understand.
This book is recommended for anyone who enjoys lengthy descriptions of places, characters, and situations. This is not a good choice for those who like action or adventure. Overall, the novel is quite boring because of the lack of action and long descriptions throughout the whole book.