I. Childhood vs. Adulthood: a rite of passage
1. Sexual awakening
a) The symbolic meaning of the snake and the hole Jim and Antonia re examining are the male and female sex organs. A sexual awakening.
b) - Jim desire to prove himself as a man and not a boy. (l.3 p.24) “I was a boy and she was a girl, and I resented her protecting manner”.- Jim’s crouching position as if he were involved in a sexual relationship (l.3 p.25) “I was walking backwards, in a crouching position, when I heard Antonia scream”. The position of the snake lying in the form of a W which could represent the work Woman (l.8 p.25) When I turned he was lying in long loose waves, like a letter “W”.
- The virility of a man (l.11) “His abominablemuscularity, his loathsome, fluid motion”.
2. Trying to assert one’s masculinity
a) The elements testifying that Jim asserts himself as a man are; he drives the spade at the snake’s head several times until its head is flat. At the end of this event, when he realises what has happened and realises Antonia’s praise, he begins to think that he has longed for this opportunity to receive praise fromAntonia. He continues to assert himself as a man by measuring the length of the snake and counting the rattles to prove its age and again impress Antonia. He allows Antonia to ride home on Dude while he walks behind her, dragging his trophy, as a man.
Jim hailed with joy Antonia’s admiration and longed for this opportunity but he pulls away when she tries to show affection by trying to wipe hisface with a handkerchief, he snatched it from her hand.
b) He is still like a child because the size of the snake and its fluid motion made him sick like a scared child. (l.11-12) “His abominable muscularity, his loathsome, fluid motion, somehow made me sick”. (l.22) “I walked away and turned my back. I felt seasick.” He then turned around a yelled at Antonia for having warned him in Bohunk(l25-26) “What did you jabber Bohunk for? You might have told me there was a snake behind me! I said petulantly” (childishly). On their way home he became more and more proud of himself but he kept glancing back to check that a mate wasn’t racing up from the rear.
II Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden
1. Characters and setting
a) This adventure takes place in the prairie dog-town. Thetall red grass with an area cleared by the prairie dogs, the well organised holes as if a very sociable kind of life is going on there. The Garden of Eden was perfect hence well organised. It offered both beauty and sustenance, being home to every tree that was pleasant to the sight and good for food. The well organised holes may represent these trees. The snake sat high on a large gravel patchas in the Garden of Eden it sat high in the tree.
b) Nature is definitely as idyllic in the extract as it is in the Garden of Eden because of the appearance of the prairie dog-town. This area wasn’t shaggy and red like the surrounding country but gray and velvety. The holes were disposed with regularity and it felt as if a very orderly and very sociable life was going on there. Just likethe Garden of Eden it is calm and tranquil and well organised, perfect.
2. The snake and the forbidden fruit
a) The snake is the initiator of sin in the Book of Genesis; it leads Adam and Eve to peril. The snake in the prairie dog-town does the same thing. It attacks and leads Jim to danger. Eve in the bible leads Adam to sin, Antonia in the extract leads Jim to the prairie dog-town andhence to danger and almost death. Jim is angry at Antonia because he realises he could have come to harm.
b) The expressions used to paint a negative portrait of the snake are at the end of page 25 where “a faint fetid smell came from him and a thread of green liquid ooze from his crushed head” and in the middle of page 26 “he seemed like the ancient, eldest evil”. Cather appeals to the senses...