By Willa Cather (pg 1831-1852)
At first glance, Neighbour Rosicky appears to be a short story about a farmer and his family; however, there is much more beneath the surface. Rosicky is a representation of immigrants, in general. He is the epitome of the "American Dream," with slight alterations. The "American Dream" is supposed to be about having a loving spouse with 2 children, a little dog, and a white picket fence; however, people have added in wealth and larger houses to the original simple dream.
Rosicky is a very family oriented man, and feels himself to be of no use unless he is working. Cather writes about Rosicky as a sort of emblem for the human race which is becoming lazy and degenerated. Modernist writers see that people have changed their "American Dreams" to be about greed, and their lives are not simple, people are becoming more corrupt, as a whole, and not fixating on the important, simple things in life. Rosicky is about the simpler things in life, he is about family, and hard work; he does not feel the need to be wealthy or obtain more possessions than his neighbor.
Rosicky's demeanor is comparable to Harper Lee's character, Atticus Finch; in To Kill A Mockingbird, with both characters, what you see is what you get. Neighbors would whisper about Rosicky, "wondering why Rosicky didn't get on faster. He was industrious, and so were his boys, but they were rather free and easy, weren't pushers...They were comfortable, they were out of debt, but they didn't get much ahead." (1835).
I feel as though Rosicky is almost a representation of life before modernism came to life. Rosicky is happiest on a farm, living comfortably, and happily rather than in a big city, racing around and trying to "get ahead." Cather appears to be taking a step back into a time when life was simpler and was about the finer, simpler, and more important things in life. Rosicky and his family were noted, by Dr. Burleigh "people as generous and warm-hearted and affectionate as the Rosickys never got ahead much; maybe you couldn't enjoy your life and put it into the bank, too." (1835).
It seems to me that the modernist way of life is about everything moving at a faster pace. The 20th century brings in technology, ideas...