This text is the introduction to My Antonia which was written by Willa Cather and published in 1918.
In this excerpt, an unnamed narrator travelling by train one summer across the American Midwestwith an old childhood friend Jim Burden, the both had grown up in a Nebraska town. They reminisce (rɛmɪˈnɪs) about their childhood days and a mutual friend, a Bohemian girl named Antonia. Both of themdecide to write what they remember about these girl but eventually only Jim manages to do so. And the following winter he comes to New York in the unnamed narrator’s apartment with his manuscriptwhere he changes the title, Antonia to My Antonia.
I would like to give a theme based commentary :
First we will focus on… (line…to line…)
Then on…(line…to line…)
And finally on…(line…to line…)LANDSCAPES
From the outset, the reader becomes aware that the landscape will be of a major importance in the story. The unnamed narrator and Jim are both linked to two very different locations : theharsh West with its extreme climates and New York.
The Midwestern landscape is seemingly inhospitable due to the extremes in climate (for example : l.2 intense heat/ l.12 extremes of climate, theburning summers/ the blustery winters) but it has been transformed by the pioneers and is rich with crops (l.6 ripe wheat = blé mûr/ l.7 pastures/ l.11 wheat and corn). It’s a « great country » richin natural resources and opportunity (l.49 new enterprises in Wyoming or Montana/ l.55 Western dreams)
Unlike the Midwest, New York, where both Jim and the narrator now live (l.19) is a place wherepeople are too busy to take time to see old friends (l.20). It is a place where Jim lives with a beautiful (l.36) wealthy (l.27) but dislikeable (l.23) wife. Theirs seems to be a disappointing,passionless marriage from which Jim flees to return to his beloved West whenever he can (l.55 to lose himself in those big Western dreams).
The contrast between the wide open spaces of the plains as...
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