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Looking To The Past Essay

738 words - 3 pages

Willa Cather is one of America’s most famous frontier writers; she “was the first modern novelist to find in the soil of the West and Southwest the rich cultural inheritance provided by its historic past and polyglot immigrant inundation of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century” (Perkins 836). Her literary style forever embeds in American literature the spirit of the pioneers of the 1800s and others travelers who sought new lives for themselves. Her writing, although Naturalistic, occasionally ends more optimistically than expected because she tries to leave her readers enlightened by something in the text. Often, her stories involve an older character who eventually reveals the ...view middle of the document...

The short-story “Old Mrs. Harris” is a good example of an older person living their life spreading the wisdom they have to offer but being overlooked by the people the care most about in their life. Mrs. Harris cares very deeply about her daughter, son-in-law, grandchildren, and Mrs. Rosen, and tries to help them as best she can, but the people in her life misunderstand her intentions greatly. They view her as helpless, a burden, too frail, and a relic of the past; they do not see her love and desire to help. However, after Mrs. Harris died, “[t]hey will regret that they heeded her so little . . . they, too, will look into the eager, unseeing eyes of young people and feel themselves alone” (Cather, “Old Mrs. Harris” 314). They took her for granted during her life and realized after she was gone how special she was to them and the impact she had in their lives.
Although Mr. Rosicky and Mrs. Harris have wisdom to share, the people around them accept their input in very different ways. Mr. Rosicky’s family looks up to him as their authority in important decisions and family matters, and they love him deeply. However, although the people Mrs. Harris knew back home...

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