Presentation on theme: "My Antonia Overview Optima dies…Prima fugit ~ Virgil."— Presentation transcript:
My Antonia Overview Optima dies…Prima fugit ~ Virgil
Willa Cather Born in Virginia, 1873…moved to Nebraska a la Jim Burden My Antonia, published in 1918…takes place around the turn of the century Strong descriptive power throughout… “I first heard of Antonia on what seemed to be an interminable journey across the great midland plains of North America…”
Themes… Man v. Nature Town v. Country Education v. Civilization Plight of Immigrants Individual v. Society
Symbols The Nebraska Landscape The Snake The Plough
The Nebraska Landscape “I had the feeling that the world was left behind, that we had got over the edge of it, and were outside man’s jurisdiction,” (7). “All those fall afternoons were the same, but I never got used to them. As far as we could see, the miles of copper-red grass were drenched in sunlight…the blond cornfields were red gold, the haystacks turned rosy and threw long shadows,” (22).
The Snake “I whirled round, and there, on one of those dry gravel beds, was the biggest snake I had ever seen. He was sunning himself after a cold night, and he must have been asleep when Antonia screamed,” (25). “She liked me better from that time on, and never took a supercilious air with me again. I had killed a big snake – and I was now a big fellow,” (27).
The Plough “On some upland farm, a plough had been left standing in the field. The sun was sinking just behind it. Magnified across the distance by the horizontal light, I stood out against the sun, was exactly contained within the circle of the disc; the handles, the tongue, the share – black against the molten red,” (118).
A Sampling of Themes The Plight of Immigrants: “The Shimerdas were the first Bohemian family to come to this part of the country. Krajiek was their only interpreter, and could tell them anything he chose,” (13). “My grandmother always spoke in a very loud tone to foreigners, as if they were deaf,” (14). “All foreigners were ignorant people who couldn’t speak English,” (98).
Or was the glass half full? “I always knew I should live long enough to see my country girls come into their own, and I have. To-day, the best that a harassed Black Hawk merchant can hope for is to sell provisions and farm machinery and automobiles to the rich farms where the first crop of stalwart Bohemian and Scandinavian girls are now the mistresses,” (98). “The country girls were considered a menace to the social order…” (98).
The Individual v. Society “The life that went on in them seemed to me made up of evasions and negations; shifts to save cooking, to save washing and cleaning, devices to propitiate the tongue of gossip. This guarded mode of existence was like living under a tyranny. People’s speech, their voices, their very glances, became furtive and repressed. Each individual taste, every natural appetite, was bridled by caution,” (106-107).
Sorry, just couldn’t resist this one… “The first time I deceived my grandparents, I felt rather shabby, perhaps even the second time, but I soon ceased to think about it, (107).
The American Dream So…what can you find that supports this overarching theme?
Optima Dies…? “You will always remember me when you think of old times, won’t you? And I guess everybody thinks about old times, even the happiest people,” (152).
Last lines… “For Antonia and me, this had been the road of Destiny; had taken us to those early accidents of fortune which predetermined for us all that we can ever be. Now I understood that the same road was to bring us together again. Whatever we had missed, we possessed together the precious, incommunicable past,” (175).