A Wagner Matinee By Willa Cather

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During the Modernist Era, Willa Cather is widely-known for her astounding work. The Modernist Era was a period that lasted from shortly after the beginning of the twentieth century until 1965. This era is frequently noted for the way authors suddenly broke away from tradition in the ways the world was viewed and interacted with (Modernism). This period was also molded by two vast wars: World War I and World War II. People couldn’t imagine what the world was barreling towards. Modernists purposely tried to break away from the way things were done in the Victorian Era. Although Cather wasn’t exactly affected by the wars, the aftermath did influence her work. Cather fits into this Era in very few ways. When writing “A Wagner Matinee,” Willa Cather…show more content…
Clark receives a letter from his Uncle telling him that his Aunt had been left a “small legacy” by a relative who had died and his presence was requested in Boston. When Clark was young, his Aunt taught him scales and exercises on the organ and encouraged him to improve; so while he is in Boston, he takes his Aunt to see the Boston Symphony Orchestra, who was to give a Wagner programme, which is where his Aunt Georgiana’s struggle begins to become evident. “She seemed to not realize that she was in the city where she spent her youth, the place longed for hungrily half a lifetime.” (Cather 3). The fact that she didn’t realize she was in the city where she spent her youth, might mean that she doesn’t want to remember her childhood. If she doesn’t remember it, she doesn’t have to face it. Cather’s use of the word “hungrily” gives off a feeling of desperation. It feels like Boston is a place that many people would long for, except her her anymore. “...stepping suddenly into the world to which she had been dead for a quarter of a century.” (Cather 4). The world in which she had been “dead” refers to the world of music, presenting a feeling of nothingness. Clark says that she might be embarrassed walking into the concert, being back in an atmosphere that has been empty of her presence for so long. At the end of the first number, Clark narrates, “She sat staring at the orchestra through a dullness of thirty years…” (Cather 5) The word “dullness” conveys that the last thirty years of Aunt Georgiana’s life hasn’t really been present; she was alive, but not really living in the way she would like. By the end of the concert, Clark’s Aunt Georgiana has come to a full realization that she is not happy with the present and wishes that she could be back in the past, the way that things used to be. “I spoke to her gently. She

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