How Does Cather Present Women In My Antonia

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My Antonia. Question #9 Willa Cather’s novel, My Antonia, is set in the early twentieth century in the frontier town of Black Hawk, Nebraska. Cather’s story is often praised for its pastoral depiction of life on the American frontier and for the diverse, hardworking people who settled it. As the young Jimmy Burden notice while traveling across the plains, “There was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made (Cather p.14).” In My Antonia, many of Cather’s female characters are anything but traditional, and rarely do they adhere to stereotypical Victorian literary depictions of women. The prevailing literature of this time depicts women in domestic, or other subservient roles whose ultimate function…show more content…
Mrs. Stevens, the widow, tells Jim that, “Folks respected her industry and tried to treat her as if nothing happened…” continuing “…She was so crushed and quiet that nobody seemed to want to humble her, she never went anywhere (Cather p.202).” This appears to be the only time Cather reverts Antonia back to a shameful female stereotype, but it does not last long. After the baby is born, Antonia takes pride in her daughter, even having a photo of her displayed in the photographers shop. Cather allows Antonia’s dynamic character to reemerge Lena Lingard, “the most beautiful, the most innocently sensuous of all the women in Willa Cather’s works (Brown p.203).” Lena is the Daughter of Norwegian immigrants, and friends to both Antonia and Jim. She is a beautiful blonde, sexually promiscuous, a smart businesswoman and has no interest in getting married, and unlike Little Women’s, Jo March, Lena doesn’t give up her independence for the security of marriage. Lena and Jim have a brief liaison, and continue their friendship in Lincoln, where Jim attends school and Lena owns a dressmaker’s shop. Cather gives Lena the independence of the stereotypical

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