Loneliness In Willa Cather's My Antonia

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English Honors 11 23 April 2012 Steady Winds My Ántonia, by Willa Cather, follows the story of Jim Burden, as he travels from Virginia to live with his grandparents in Nebraska and starts a new life. Throughout the novel, Cather incorporates the landscape and weather into the text as a way to set the tone for the coming scenes. The vivid descriptions of the terrain help inform the author of the characters feelings and emotions through their trials and tribulations. Whether rainy and stormy, or clear and bright, Jim Burden’s experiences mirror the surrounding conditions. Young Jim Burden’s feelings of loneliness become apparent right away in the novel when he first arrives in Nebraska. He does not take in the beauty of the territory,…show more content…
In one instance, the forbidding weather alludes to the pessimist attitudes that will come; “But on the 21st of December, the snow began to fall. The flakes came down so thickly that from the sitting-room windows I could not see beyond the windmill- its frame looked dim and gray, unsubstantial like a shadow” (52). This quote symbolizes how Jim does not know what will become of him or his new friends. The uncertainties of how families will get by in the winter. Later in the novel, the Shimerda’s find it difficult to gather enough food to feed the family. Another example of the negative allusions appears when the weather started changing, no longer comforting the earth, but losing color and warmth “While the autumn color was growing pale on the grass and cornfields, things went badly with our friends the Russians” (35). The Russians immigrants, Pavel and Peter find themselves indebted to the local money lender who cares about nothing more than making a profit. When Jim reconnects with his first Nebraska friend, Antonia, they look up at the sky together while on the roof of the chicken house. The sky was dark but the two children were able to find peace in it; “Half the sky was checkered with black thunderheads, but all the west was luminous and clear: in the lightning-flashes it looked like deep blue water, with the sheen of…show more content…
Jim, captivated by Antonia’s charm from the beginning, experiments with different lifestyles as he grows up. He flirts with Lena Lingard for a time, focuses his energy on studying, and even receives a job as a prominent New York City lawyer. Jim cannot escape his thoughts that frequently wander back to Antonia and the Nebraska terrain. Even as a boy, Jim observes his surroundings, “The little trees were insignificant against the grass. It seemed as if the grass were about to run over them…” (13). Grass would remain a major part of the landscape even if the trees were larger in size, just like the immigrants would remain a major part of America even when times got rough. Cather uses the Nebraska scenery to describe the calming and tranquil feelings that a character like Jim Burden or the Shimerda clan would; “On the edge of the prairie, where the sun had gone down, the sky was turquoise blue, like a lake, with fold light throbbing in it” (173). All around the people was something more; more than the town, more than the crops, more than themselves. When the characters stop and recognize surrounds them, the tranquility of their surroundings hint that good times will come; “There along the western sky-line, it skirted a great cornfield, much larger than any field I had ever seen. This cornfield and sorghum patch behind the barn were the only broken land in

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