Willa Cather's Use Of Landscape Essay

2321 words - 9 pages

Willa Cather's use of landscapeWilla Cather's style was polished, sincere and apparent. She had a technique that was more sophisticated than the great European tradition. The young Willa Cather - as she is revealed in her writing of the mid-nineties - was primarily a romantic and a primitive ("The Kingdom of Art" 31). Her creative vision was peculiarly profound, primitive, psychological and precise. It forced readers to use their senses to visualize scenes and be more involved. Cather's writing allowed for the back door of the reader's mind to remain open and to bring about people's instincts. She felt that conventional themes of love, despair, truth and beauty, were very important qualities. Cather wrote about life itself so passionately that the characters she created seemed to be more authentic than the characters of history. Her move to the Divide immensely influenced her writings, "she used the land as an instrument for the revelation of human character and purpose" ("The Plow and the Pen" 78). Her distinctive ability of presenting people's fates, and the beauty of nature harmonically, made her name famous and her novels and short stories such as "On the Divide," "Lou the Prophet" and "A Wagner Matinee" leaving readers simply captivated by the environment's simplicity and primitivism. More than that, Cather's works express the penetrating global idea of intercultural dependency on environment intertwined with the universal story of the rise of civilizations in history.In these short stories, the characters are all vastly diverse but every one has the reoccurring reminder of the unsympathetic land. "The Nebraska prairie also acts as a character inthese novels, interaction with all the human characters and influencing their lives in powerful and subtle ways. The land is often referred to as if it were a person" (78). In "On the Divide" Cather's protagonist Canute lives in a little shanty near Rattlesnake Creek where "to the west the ground was broken and rough, and a narrow strip of timber wound along the turbid, muddy little stream that had scarcely ambition enough to crawl over its black bottom" (493). In this first paragraph of her story, Cather is consciously laying out her character and the plot of the story. Throughout the story Canute seems to the reader broken and rough with barely enough ambition to crawl through his everyday duties on the prairie. The land, which is the characters source of life "wanted to be let alone, to preserve its own fierce strength, its peculiar, savage kind of beauty, its uninterrupted mournfulness" ("The Plow and the Pen" 78).The people who moved to Nebraska to obtain land and essentially create history seemed remorseful at their life-altering choice. "It is not easy for men that have spent their youths fishing in the Northern seas to be content with following a plow, and men that have served in the Austrian army hate hard work and coarse clothing and the loneliness of the plains, and long for marches and...

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