The American West In My Antonia

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The American West isn’t all about cowboys and cattle. The American West is home to many interesting characteristics which truly separate it from the rest of the country, and the rest of the world. Some of the knowledge about the west was originally spread to the rest of the country through literature. One popular book that highlighted interesting facts about the west was Willa Cather’s My Antonia. This book presented an insight into the life of a western immigrant, and as Randolph Bourne said while speaking about the novel, “Here at last is an American novel, redolent of the Western prairie, that our most irritated and exacting preconceptions can be content with.” (Bourne) Willa Cather used her experience in the west, which highly impacted…show more content…
One of the narrator’s very first thoughts about this unique part of the country was, “Everywhere, as far as the eye could reach, there was nothing but rough, shaggy, red grass, most of it as tall as I.” (12) Unlike the immense amount of trees in the East, the West held a large amount of grass that seems to swallow the land, as Cather teaches us. The characteristic of the grass and plainness of Nebraska is restated throughout the novel to emphasize how different it was compared to the coast and the city. There is little mention of trees, and when there is, it is always about a couple trees; Cather informs that forests are absent from the West. This idea is large in the novel because, as Heidi N. Sjostrom stated, “When Cather herself traveled to Nebraska as a child, she found a landscape foreign to her previous experiences in Virginia.” (Sjostrom) Overall, Cather teaches that the terrain of the West can make a person feel small, and give insight to the true power of…show more content…
Once again, the weather proved to be much different than Virginia when Cather lived in Nebraska, and she used her experience to highlight the unique climate in her novel. Jim Burden describes the unfamiliarity of simple season changes in the West when he states, “There were none of the signs of spring for which I used to watch in Virginia, no budding woods or blooming gardens.” (77) Cather describes the harsh winters, sudden spring, and extreme temperatures in the summer through her telling of Jim Burden’s story. Weather differs largely from east to west, and immigrants to the West were the people who learned this the hard way. Climate is actually a centerpiece of explanation in this novel as explained by A. Robert Lee, “My Antonia (1918) remains the great Cather centerpiece, her portrait … of life within the Nebraska landscape of wheat and changing seasons.” (Lee) Cather’s main goal with her description of the unique climate in the American West was to explain that the weather can have immense effect on the human psyche, especially if it is unusual to

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