Nesa Sivagnanam's Reviews > My Antonia

My Antonia by Willa Cather
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Jul 26, 11

Read on July 26, 2011

Jim Burden, arrives in the town of Black Hawk, Nebraska, on the same train as the Shimerdas, where he goes to live with his grandparents after his parents have died. Jim develops strong feelings for Ántonia, something between a crush and a filial bond, and the reader views Ántonia's life, including its attendant struggles and triumphs, through that lens.

The novel is divided into five books. The volumes correspond roughly to the stages of Ántonia's life up through her marriage and motherhood, although the third volume, "Lena Lingard," focuses more on Jim's time in college and his affair with Lena, another childhood friend of his, who is also Ántonia's friend.

The five books are:

The Shimerdas - It covers Jim's early years spent on his grandparents' farm, out on the prairie.

The Hired Girls - It covers Jim's time in town, when he spends time with Ántonia and the other country girls who work in town.

Lena Lingard - This chronicles Jim's time at the university, and the period in which he becomes reacquainted with Lena Lingard.

The Pioneer Woman's Story - Jim visits the Harlings and hears about Ántonia's fateful romance with Larry Donovan.

Cuzak's Boys - Jim goes to visit Ántonia and meets her new family, her children and husband.

Ántonia Shimerda is a bold and free-hearted young Bohemian girl with whom Jim Burden develops a strong friendship. She is four years older than Jim. Her family comes to Black Hawk, Nebraska, from Bohemia, and not long after, her father, during the first hard Nebraskan winter shoots himself in the family's barn.

At the beginning of the second book, The Hired Girls, Jim moves with his grandparents to town, who encourage their neighbours, the Harling family, to take Ántonia on as a maid. Jim befriends the other hired girls, including the beautiful Lena Lingard.

Jim eventually goes away to college, and largely forgets his past in Black Hawk. Years later he meets Lena Lingard again, now a successful dressmaker. They are involved "romantically" for a time, but Jim's mentor notes the detrimental impact it is having on Jim's studies and offers him the opportunity to study instead at Harvard Law School in Boston. Jim ultimately returns to Black Hawk after some 20 years, and visits Ántonia. She is now married with 10 children, and Jim finds himself affectionate toward the whole family. The closing lines of the book communicate Jim's feelings that whatever he felt that he and Ántonia had missed, "we possessed together the precious, the incommunicable past."
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message 1: by Daphne (new)

Daphne Lee This is my To Be Read SOON list, which is getting longer by the day ... :-( or maybe :-D as it means it's unlikely that I'll ever run out of books to read.

Nesa Sivagnanam Mines growing exponentially too ... sigh

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