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Posted October 31, 2006
Willa Cather¿s My Antonia is a timeless masterpiece in literature. The coming of age story of Jim Burden is told in a way that allows the book to withstand the ages of time. The setting, plot, and theme of the story along with other elements give the story a depth, and realness, that few novels achieve. My Antonia tells the story of Jim Burden as he grows up on his grandparents¿ farm in Nebraska around the turn of the century. Embedded in the story line of this novel are many literary themes. The coming of age story with Jim shows how he grows from a boy to a teenager, and finally becomes an adult. The trials that Jims goes through and the lessons he learns in his life show how people have to work hard at life and try their best to become the person they want to be. Another theme of this book is to appreciate the people around you and what you are surrounded by. At times in the novel Jim and Antonia don¿t get along and they dislikes each other. But in the end, Jim realizes that despite their disagreements and differences Jim still needs and values her (as she does him) and wants to stay friends with Antonia. The themes of this novel surround the fact of how the people around individuals shape who they are and who they are going to become in their life. Another part of this book that makes it so amazing is the characters. The characters of this book are so believable and their problems make them easier for you to relate to despite the 100-year time difference in setting. In the beginning, the title character Antonia has just immigrated to Nebraska with her family from Bohemia. Throughout the book, all the hard work Antonia has to do to help support her family after her father¿s death, and the way she almost loses herself in the town life but the finds herself again in the end, gives her a realness and a sense of strength to all readers. Jim Burden, the protagonist of the book, gives the story depth as he struggles with inner conflicts. As Jim is growing up he wants to please his grandparents but he also wants to live life and get away from the small town he has grown up in and their image of him as a little boy. The supporting characters such as Mr. and Mrs. Shimerda (Antonia¿s parents), Jim¿s grandfather, and Lena Lingard, also add to and complete the story by creating conflict and helping the two main characters. The lessons characters learn and the way they grow as people also gives the story a realistic feel because the struggles of Jim and Antonia are problems that people could face in real life. The literary element of setting has given My Antonia a very fitting world. Although it is not obvious exactly when the story takes place it is obvious that the novel is set in Black Hawk, Nebraska, sometime around the beginning of the twentieth century. The fact that this book is set in the country as opposed to the city gives it a much more laid back feel and causes you to focus more on the people and their stories without the distracting hustle and bustle of the city. The lack of great importance or activity in the setting, gives the story over completely to plot and character development. Without having to focus on keeping track of an ever-changing setting it is possible for the reader to focus more on aspects of the story such as Antonia and her family, Jim and his family, and the relationship between the two. Two final literary elements in My Antonia are the point of view and plot. Told in 1st person by Jim Burden, the point of view of this story gives Jim a deepness as you get to look at all of his thought and feelings. This point of view also allows you to look at one of the major conflicts of the plot, Jim vs. his inner self. Jim is trying to find and become the kind of person he wants to be beyond high school and find his own identity. There are other plots of the story as well but this plot wouldn¿t be possible if the book were told from a different point of view. Other plots of the story include the ups and dow
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Posted April 3, 2005
A young Jim Burden is sent west in the early 1900's to live with his grandparents. On the train to his new house meets a young girl a couple of years older than he is. Although he doesn't know it, this is the beginning of a long-lasting friendship. After settling into his house on the plains of Nebraska, he ventures out to greet his new neighbor. Antonia Shimerda is her name and her family had immigrated from Bohemia. As Jim grows up he has many experiences with Antonia. When Jim is twelve, he and his family move into the nearby town, Black Hawk. Antonia also goes into town to find work. Because they belong to separate 'classes' they start to separate. As Jim settles down and continues his education, Antonia goes wild and goes to every town dance possible. After a failed marriage and an unwanted baby, Antonia moves back into the country to help her family's farm. Jim, meanwhile, transfers from the Lincoln University to Harvard. Forty years later Jim revisits Antonia to find her happily married and living a farm life full of content. Even though Antonia isn't as successful as Jim she seems to get more out of life. My Antonia is a wonderful piece of literature that shows the true meaning of happiness and the life and times of the early 1900's.
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Posted October 3, 2012
Most of the time, I don't like books about immigrants; I have nothing against the immigrants themselves, but the books are usually written in a certain style, like the author is pretending that english is actually their second language. But I have always been a fan of the classics, and living in Nebraska (Willa Cather's Origin), I decided to give this a try. When I began the first page, I was pleasantly surprised that it not only wasn't that style at all, but that I actually couldn't put it down! The characters felt alive in the pages and relateable to anyone, no matter who was reading it. You get a glimpse of the original American Dream, too, which I love. This book is definately worth reading, give it a try.
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Posted July 12, 2012
I just graduated with a BA in English and throughout my time at college I have read My Antonia three times because it is by FAR my favorite book of all time. (I suppose it helps when your favorite professor is a Willa Cather expert). Originally it was a book I stumbled upon my senior year of high school and every time I read it, it offers me something new and I can't help but get sucked into the atmosphere Cather creates.
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Posted July 30, 2013
I haven't read My Antonia since my college days nearly 30 years ago. I reread it because I had ordered it as part of the Penguin Drop Caps series. It is just as good as I remembered it. A great portrait of taming of the West that includes astute observations about the immigrant experience. Throughout it has a bittersweet feeling of nostalgia and regret--two powerful emotions that sneak up on you. They don't overpower the story, but they give it much of its sense of depth.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 11, 2013
My Ántonia by Willa Cather was written in 1918 and is considered the last in the “Prairie Trilogy” following O Pioneers! And The Song of the Lark. This book is considered one of the greatest novels written by an American.
Ántonia Shimerda’s story is told through the eyes of Jim Burden, a childhood friend. Even though Jim left town, he never forgot the Bohemian girl who influenced, and still influences his life from afar.
Ántonia has always worked hard, first helping her parents farm in an unfriendly land and later to preserve though the hardships life throws at her. Ántonia always prevails with spirit that cannot be broken, that of a pioneer.
My Ántonia by Willa Cather is a story within a story. The narrator is a friend of Jim who is stuck in a loveless marriage. Jim is consumed by a fantasy girl, Ántonia, who he remembers from childhood.
The characters in the book well written, realistic but form a strange group, Ms. Cather does an amazing job writing a book from the perspective of a young man. To be honest, if I knew that this would be the case I probably won’t have read the book to begin with. I’m always weary of stories written from a perspective which the author can never perceive. Even though a man tells the story, this is not how a man would tell a story. The narrative might be in the voice of a man, but it is a woman writing as a man, with all the insights, gentleness and motivations which comes with it. While writing from that perspective might not always work, this novel comes off as a realistic fantasy of a middle aged man, thinking back on his life, the mistakes he has made and what “could have been”.
Ántonia seems to be the perfect woman, told by an unreliable narrator who remembers her without any faults. It’s as if you made contact with your high-school sweetheart, decades after you saw one another and expect nothing to change. Jim puts Ántonia on a pedestal, the reader knows she’s not perfect and the mistakes, is lovely as they are, are still seen through rose colored glasses worn by a man who adores her but simply doesn’t understand her.
This is certainly a book of quality; Cather makes this character driven novel come alive with her vivid descriptions of Nebraska. It seems that the characters belong to each other as much as they belong to the land and to the American immigrant literary experience.
Posted January 11, 2013
Posted January 8, 2013
Posted February 25, 2012
Posted December 22, 2011
Posted June 17, 2011
My Antonia by Willa Cather is about the friendship between a boy, Jim, and an immigrant girl, Antonia. Willa Cather's novel deals with issues such as immigration, suicide, prejudice, and unrequited love. My Antonia is a charming coming-of-age story set in the late 19th c. The characters are realistically written. The story is narrated by Jim and is a compilation of memories from his childhood and young adult life.
To be honest, I did not want to read this book-mostly because it is a realist work. I'm not a huge fan of realism-I find it quite depressing. I still wonder why I decided to take a class on American Literature that concentrated on Realist works. I had to read and write a paper on this novel. So, of course, I was dreading it. But it truly surprised me. I did not expect to like it at all. I recommend you read this if you like classic American Literature. Even if you don't, it's still a good read; and by far my favorite of all the books/short stories I had to read for that class.
Posted October 28, 2010
Posted March 9, 2010
Willa Cather, who is from Virginia, has a pleasant writing style that pulled me into the story. My heart went out to Antonia's family and the life she led. I really enjoyed this book with the historical setting.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 5, 2005
Posted February 27, 2005
I had to read this book as an assignment, so naturally I did not enjoy it too terribly much. My fellow classmates and I decided that the most interesting part of this book is within the first 30 pages, where a snake is killed. But I do have to give this book credit for making me think, there is plenty of symbolism, foreshadowing and other literary elements. It seems that nothing is as it seems... After discussing this book within the class multiple times, my eyes were opened to the many symbolic events. This book ties the main focus of the book, Antonia, to the Earth itself many a time, and there are several references to the Garden of Eden and such, so be on the lookout!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 8, 2004
A true American story of companionship, My Antonia does not sugarcoat the lives of characters introduced throughout the novel. Following the life of an immigrant young girl through the eyes of an all-American, country boy, this novel illustrates the importance of childhood friendship, and the impact it carries throughout adult life. Taking place in unsettled Nebraska in an unknown year, perhaps the late 1800's, the accounts of Jim Burden and his childhood life are captured in Willa Cather¿s smooth and flowing text. Jim¿s newest neighbors are immigrant bohemians, and the child closest to his age is a young girl a few years older, Antonia. Jim and Antonia immediately bond as Jim takes Antonia under his wing to teach her the English language. They grow up together frolicking through the fields of the country. As the novel progresses the friendship between Jim and Antonia remains constant. Jim¿s unconditional love for Antonia never fully exposes itself, however their friendship continues throughout the half century of their lives. My Antonia is a quick read, with thoughtful insights and profound meanings. The realism portrayed in this novel is very touching, as real characters and real feelings are conveyed. Many people can connect these characters to real people they know or have met, regardless of the era. This novel is very touching as everyone can relate to the story of the most important childhood friendship, feelings are never brought up, and the friendship eventually fades, but is never forgotten.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 1, 2004
I just finished reading this book for my English 10 class and am so pleased our teacher picked this book for us to read. This book will make your heart smile. It is a great book about a man telling us all the memories he has of HIS Antonia. This is a book everyone has to read without a doubt.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 16, 2003
This is a have too read book! At first it seems like the book is going to be kind of boring but as you read own, you won't be able to put down the book. Hands down the best romanic love book I've ever read. I hope you take the time and see it for yourself.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 5, 2003
My Antonia is a profound novel that deserves merit on its own accord. The novel is masterfully written by Willa Cather, an author who creates real, believable characters and places them in a setting that she vividly and colorfully illustrates. The novel¿s simple yet emotionally rendering plot, coupled with skillful descriptions of places and wonderful imagery make My Antonia a gem among books written about life on the Western prairies. Cather¿s novel is strong in that she beautifully manages to capture the every-day lives of pioneer men and women living on harsh terrain. She specifically tells of the stories of Jim Burden and Antonia Shimerda. The novel is composed of Jim¿s reminisces from childhood through adulthood and the personal voice makes the novel come alive. The journey of both characters through life and the strength of their friendship are brilliantly etched out through Cather¿s distinctive style of writing. Being a girl, I found the novel personally appealing as I enjoy reading books with strong female heroines. I could identify with the issues Antonia and her friends went through growing up, and it was interesting to read about the life of a young girl in such a different setting, time, and place to that of my own life. I was hooked to her story: I laughed and enjoyed reading the good experiences she shared with Jim, agonized over mistakes she made that caused sorrow in her life, and nearly cried during the touching scene where Jim finds the courage to see her again after years of begin away from Nebraska.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 3, 2003
This is an intriguing story that has an underlying theme of searching for a new life, living out the 'American Dream.' The Bohemian family that moves to Nebraska is looking for opportunities to assimilate into American culture. This is a story of determination, individualism, and freedom to be oneself. The novel reflects the American experience because it displays how people are constantly trying to improve the quality of their lives through the immigration of the Shimerda's, and also because independence is an outstanding characteristic in the book. No matter the toil and hardships they face, this family is willing to give it everything they¿ve got to ¿make it¿ in America. Much like in today¿s society, where American people have ambitions and the drive to make them a reality, so did Antonia. Her willingness to stray from the normal perception of women and to help out her family makes us think about what is really important in our lives and what we value most.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.