My Antonia by Willa Cather

Do you wanna read a book which presents different aspects of life? If yes, then Willa Cather’s My Antonia is good for you!

 

Set in the second half of the nineteenth century Nebraska, the novel is Cather’s landscaping on page. “Her novels stick in the reader’s mind as flickering memories of places we may never have seen with our own eyes” – Jane Smiley. She has presented before our eyes the very landscape of Nebraska that was her home. After reading the book, one feels that one has visited the place. “One of the things critics loved about My Antonia was that it recalled a world of … natural beauty that readers knew, even as the book was being published, was disappearing because of technology, war, urban expansion” – Smiley. Cather captures the environmental aesthetics of the place before the arrival of technology, the mechanised ploughing of the prairies and other advancements that ruined the place. The town life seems like a different world to the reader, one that he/she may have never seen.

 

Also, the book is about the predicament of the immigrants in a land that upheld the ideal of the great American Dream. Cather witnesses immigrants in Nebraska from Norway, Sweden, France, Bohemia, Mexico. People from diverse lands and cultures united under an American identity. But what they have to give in order to achieve that American dream, one needs to find out in the novel.

 

The novel is a bildungsroman of sorts, about growing up, from childhood to adulthood. It tells about the growth of the female protagonist Antonia and along with her, the growing up of Jim Burden and their other neighbourhood friends, focusing on their maturing years and the lasting friendships that they forge. Reminds us how we grow up with our loved ones but later go away to find our own places in the world, making it difficult to hold on to the friendships we make. But maybe the bonds are strong enough to pull all back together once in a while!

 

“Some memories are realities, and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again” – My Antonia

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Anam Tariq
Anam Tariq is a poet and writer with an MA in English from Aligarh Muslim University and a poetry collection A Leaf upon a Book (Leadstart, 2022) to her name. She runs The Wordsridge Newsletter on Substack and writes for Writers’ Cafeteria, and others. She is also a poetry and prose reader at Culinary Origami Journal. Anam’s poems appear in The Punch Magazine, The Alipore Post, The Chakkar, Swim Press, Spill Words, Verse of Silence, coalitionworks, LiveWire and elsewhere. In her free time Anam loves immersing herself in books. Website: www.anamtariq.in.

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