Pursuing the American Dream in My Antonia by Willa Cather
In the novel, My Antonia, by Willa Cather, everyone seems to
be trying to pursue the American Dream. While they all have different
ideas of just exactly what the American Dream is, they all know
precisely what they want. For some, the American Dream sounds so
enticing that they have traveled across the world to achieve their
goal. They work hard to fit in and succeed, but, as in the case of Mr.
Shimerda, are not always successful.
One girl who was chasing the American Dream was Lena Lingard,
a small farm girl from a poverty-stricken family. Lena had one thing
on her mind: money. To her the American Dream was wealth. She wanted
freedom from worry about where her next meal would come from, or how
she would pay for a new dress. Lena began her journey to wealth by
becoming one of the many hired girls in the town of Black Hawk. There
she was apprentice to a dressmaker and before long began to show great
potential. She soon began making money with her newfound talent, and
used this money not to help herself, but to benefit her family. Lena
spent her free time buying clothes for them, and paid some of their
bills. She also went to many dances over the summer months. With all
of her beautiful dresses, many of the young men began to notice her as
they never had before. Soon Lena began to get a reputation that many
hired girls got, that of a brazen hussy. Everyone thought that she
would wind up marrying the wrong man and ruin her life, but Lena had
different plans. She did not listen to anything that they said about
her. As soon as she could, she got her own dress shop in Lincoln and
thrived with it. After a while she moved to San Francisco and did
even better. She did not let the stereotype of the hired girls get in
her way of the American Dream. She was determined to reach her goal
and with all of her hard work she did just that.
Some families traveled a great many miles to try to win the
American Dream. The Shimerdas came all the way from Bohemia and
gambled everything they had...