Symbolism In My Antonia

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My Antonia In the novel My Antonia, the author, Willa Cather, uses “the road” as a symbol to contrast the successful American dreams of Jim and Antonia with the unsuccessful dream of Mr. Shimerda ultimately showing that the American dream is not achievable by all. At the beginning of the novel, Jim came to Black Hawk as an orphan to live with his grandparents after the recent death of his parents. After getting off the train, Jim must take a long caravan ride through the dark open plains to reach his grandparents house. As Jim looked at the openness of the land, Jim realized the road symbolized the beginning of his new journey, “I had left their spirits behind me. The wagon jolted on, carrying me I knew not whither.” (8) Jim understands that there is no way to get his…show more content…
Mr. Shimerda moved his whole family to Black Hawk in order to give his eldest son Ambrosch, a better life. As all the Shimerda’s started on the road towards their American dreams, Mr. Shimerda’s dream is unsuccessful. As Mr. Shimerda is unable to provide the necessities for his family, he began to borrow many things from Jim’s family. Mr. Shimerda’s depression caused by his lack of ability to provide for his family, foreshadows his ultimate suicide. The American dream of Mr. Shimerda was lost due to his loss of faith in himself. The road to the American dream is never easy, but it takes perseverance to accomplish. A perseverance not seen in Mr. Shimerda. Mr. Shimerda was buried at the crossroad, “The road from the west swung out a little to the south; so that the grave, with its tall red grass that was never mowed, was like a little island.” (77) The crossroad symbolizes the end of Mr. Shimerda’s American dream as it crosses the road to the American dream, to the road to the unsuccessful. The crossroad also symbolizes how Mr. Shimerda will always be able to see the future of his children in their goal to reach the American

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