Henry Avila's Reviews > My Ántonia

My Ántonia by Willa Cather
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James Quayle Burden loses both his parents at the tender age of ten in Virginia near the Blue Ridge Mountains, sent by relatives to his grandparents (Josiah and Emmaline Burden) by train, in the custody of a trusted employee that worked for his late father teenager Jake Marpole, reaching the farm safely in the still wild prairie state of Nebraska, newly settled by Americans, the Indians have been scattered and are no longer a threat , but the harsh frontier land remains untamed. Colorful Otto Fuchs an immigrant from Austria, former cowboy ( Wild West stories he recites, reluctantly , of his experiences there) and amiable Jake Marpole, who remains to help Jim's old relatives are very capable farm hands, that keep everything running smoothly quite needed by Jim's grandparents, he becomes their good friend ... Many of the these new settlers are from Europe, lured by the American government's promise and the law, that anyone who lives a certain amount of years on a property, it becomes theirs. But many poor Europeans arriving are from the cities, not knowing how to farm unable to build a log cabin, raise crops take care of animals that are essential to survive the unforgiving climate, hot excruciating summers and cold, snowy, freezing winters. The neighbors feels very sorry for these incompetents, get them out of their holes in the ground and make a proper home of wood; log cabins , give them animals which are vital to maintain a successful farm, show how to raise a crop, corn, even their old clothes to wear... A family from Bohemia (Czech Republic) are one of these people, not speaking a word of English the Shimerdas, living in a cave starving, no proper clothes dirt poor city folks the closest to Jim's grandparent's home. He meets pretty, lively, Antonia (Tony) Shimerda four years older, teaches her English at the urging of her unhappy father, the mother is always complaining about her lack of things ( and will never be grateful). They become pals, exploring the nearby untouched lands the endless, constantly moving red grass caused by the gentle winds and blue skies, seeing the fascinating sights , swimming in the local river's pristine water, picnics in the wilderness Jim falls in love with Antonia even trying to kiss her on the lips, she laughs at him treating the young boy like a child, puts her arms around his shoulders. They grow older, climbing a chicken house once to the roof, seeing an exhilarating electric storm in the night sky, lightning flashing close but not scared they're together, become almost adults and remain friends. The aging grandparents move to Black Hawk (Red Cloud) , a small town which Jim likes a short distance from their farm, it is rented to a widow and her brother. Jim can never stop loving My Antonia, her solid character working like a man in the fields to help her large family never quitting, treated badly by her stern brother Ambrosch, but in good humor when she comes home dead tired , soiled ragged clothes, face and body turned brown by the unceasing Sun, an optimist forever as young, clever, Burden leaves for college first in Lincoln the state capital, at the new University of Nebraska and then Harvard , becomes a rich railroad lawyer like Abraham Lincoln. He will come back and visit Antonia... A novel that tells what it was really like to live and struggle in the lonely prairie, during the nineteenth century in the American Midwest, not romantic but plenty of misery and a little happiness....
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Reading Progress

November 6, 2014 – Shelved
November 6, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
February 24, 2015 – Started Reading
March 3, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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Dolors Thanks for allowing me to revisit the rich red-golden texture of the grass of the prairies dancing to the wind and Cather's evocative recollections of the Nebraska frontiers... Delightful trip Henry, thank you.


Henry Avila You're welcome Dolors. I see now, what it was like in the Old West, for most pioneers. Not very glamorous, like a western film or book. But a lot of people don't want reality...


message 3: by s.penkevich (new) - added it

s.penkevich Great review! I feel shame now for having yet to read any Cather!


Henry Avila She was a fine writer, Spen, relating her own experiences, as a child, on the lonely prairie...


Sketchbook Cather is possibly the Great American Writer. (Like your rev, but one block of type is an eye-test).


Henry Avila Thanks Sketchbook, I'll think about changing my style...


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