My Antonia Gender

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My Ántonia subverts traditional gender roles, both for women and for men. Set around the turn of the century in the American West, the novel surprisingly features women as its strongest characters and men as its weakest. The full definition of feminism is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. Our society is plagued to believe that one sex is superior over another. In My Ántonia, there is an apparent reversal of stereotypical gender roles. Women take control of families, earn money, call the shots, and even do field work with the men. The title character, Ántonia, is characterized by strength of both body and of spirit, while the male narrator Jim is both indecisive and weak. When her father dies and Ántonia…show more content…
Tiny is one of the “hired girls” when we meet her. She is one if the immigrant girls who come to town to work to support their families back in the country. She ends up making a fortune in the gold rush in Alaska and ends up a wealthy woman living in San Francisco. This shows us that Cather, the author, rewards the women who ignore traditional gender roles, maintain their independence, and take risks. Emma Burden is Jim’s grandmother. Jim is the main character. The grandmother's character reinforces the gender distinction in My Ántonia – the women are the energetic, lively, strong ones, characters of action and movement who make things happen. And finally, Lena Lingard. Lena is also a “hired girl” who comes along to be a successful dressmaker in Lincoln. Jim states that he is proud of her: “You must feel proud of yourself Lena,” I said heartily. “Look at me; I’ve never earned a dollar, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to.” (171). This statement also goes back to the reversal of gender roles. Lena Lingard is a Norwegian immigrant’s daughter and friend to both Ántonia and Jim. Lena and Jim share a small relationship and which later expands in Lincoln, Nebraska where Lena now owns a dressmaking shop and Jim is going to college. Men are always attracted to her, including Jim and her neighbors. Lena is interesting in the fact that she refuses to be married and lose
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