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A Critical Book Review Of "My Antonia". Discusses Symbolism, Characterization, And An Analysis Of The Themes.

2089 words - 8 pages

My Antonia_______________Willa CatherHoughton Mifflin CompanyBoston, MassachusettsCopyright 1918 by, Willa S. CatherForeword by: Doris Grumbach238 pagesFront-of-cover design by: Wendell MinorUSD $5.95ISBN: 0-395-08356-7Hailed as, "One of Americas finest pieces of literature" I would have to agree with that.My Antonia was a colorful book full of exploration, times of life and laughter, and times of heartbreak and sorrow.In My Antonia , Cather recreates experiences and describes things so vividly in such a way ,that one can easily imagine and feel the full effects; as Cather takes us through the pleasant and then even to some of the almost unbearable harsh lives of the Nebraska farmers and immigrants.My Antonia perhaps, Cather's most distinguished novel, takes place sometime around the 1880's-1900's, in and around Black Hawk, Nebraska.My Antonia is a novel based on the memories of the protagonist, Jim Burden. Many critics have criticized this novel, and have focused on such literary elements such as symbolism, motif, and characterization. There is a great deal of symbolism used in this novel, which I will cover among the many other literary elements and devices that are used. The strongest argument however is the one that states that the foundation of every element in the book is based on the personal memories of Willa Cather. The author, Willa Cather, wrote this story based on her childhood. The characters are fictional but are patterned after Cather's family and friends. She paints the story like a canvas; in stages you uncover the plot. The story is told like a memory. Some things are forgotten or hard to see, but some are vivid and filled with details. In My Antonia, the first chapter covers Jim and Antonia's trials and experiences in a year. Here Cather uses her own experiences to emphasize the attitudes of people toward immigrants. She allows you to see both of their sides. This can relate to all human kind and our overall feelings towards people who are different.My Antonia isn't in the form of a typical, conventional novel, it's practically a series of dramatic, delightful and yet elegiac episodes. The excuse for this form is made right at the beginning by, Jim burden "I didn't have time to arrange it, I simply wrote down pretty much all that her name recalls to me. I suppose it hasn't any form"So presumably we are to hear about the memories of Antonia, but we get much more. We get a lot of Jim, Cather also includes a few anecdotes, (Pavel and Peters story, was among the best of the anecdotes) we also get a remembrance of small town life, and a vivid picture of Nebraska.Jim's tone toward his story is somewhat sad, extremely nostalgic, and full of longing for a lost past. Throughout Book V, as he narrates the story of his reunion with Antonia, he becomes much more optimistic and less elegiac in mood.The characters in My Antonia came alive and were very interesting. After all the struggles the immigrant families suffered, many of them...

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