My Ántonia (Great Plains Trilogy, #3) My Ántonia discussion


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Is Jim Burden transgendered?

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Silverpiper Gee Brennan. I don't think anyone has ever before described My Antonia as a book about Jim Burden. I am truly speechless.


message 2: by Lia (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lia Brennan wrote: "My Antonia is the story of Jim Burden's relationships with the pioneer girls, most darling among them Antonia,and how Jim ultimately fails to have anything more permanent memories.

Is Jim's ultima..."


i believe the correct term is gay. and no i do not believe he is a trans sexual


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Lia Brennan wrote: "Lia wrote: "Brennan wrote: "My Antonia is the story of Jim Burden's relationships with the pioneer girls, most darling among them Antonia,and how Jim ultimately fails to have anything more permanen..."

where do you get the idea that jim is a women? and my answer is still no


Joanne Harrumph, I disapprove. I loved the book, it is possible to seek for too much meaning.


Silverpiper ok Brennan. My Antonia is the first book in what is called the "prairie trilogy" by Willa Cather. Cather wrote these books primarily to document the lives and struggles of the pioneers. The novel is not so much about individual characters' lives but pioneer lives as a whole. To interpret this book as just being about Jim's personal life is short sighted.

However, the male characters in this book are not nearly as dynamic as the women and I think that is what you are noticing. I suggest you read some of Cather's other works before you draw conclusions about the sexual orientation of her male characters.

I think you would find the life of Willa Cather quite interesting as well! ( That's hint, by the way!)


Lobstergirl I don't know if Jim Burden is a lesbian or not, but I did find him a lot more interesting than Antonia, even though she is the focus of the book. I'm trying to remember, it's been awhile since I read it. Wasn't Jim in a slightly unhappy marriage (we learn about his marriage in the opening pages)?


Allen James Hasse...I think you hit the nail on the head. Cather was not one to "hide" her personal identity. For the era in which she lived and wrote she was bold in this respect.

I've taught thus read My Antonia for the past 25 years and have NEVER had one student question the issue of Jim's sexuality. I agree with Silverpiper that the "focus" of Cather's books are plain and simple....freemasonary. She writes about the openness of the prairie....the wide spaces of the American west....possibly if one were to be struggling with issues of their own "identity", this could be construed to analogize her desire to be "open" and "free" about her sexual orientation, but based on what we know about Willa Cather, this wasn't an issue for her.

However she would more than likely be pleased her writing could cause such a discussion.

Jim Burden was from the East. His upbringing until he arrived at his grandparent's farm was lacking in the "masculine" attributes...he was a learner. Grandfather Burden encouraged this in him, cultivated in him what he desired in himself...and his son who he and Grandmother Burden continue to grieve.

Could it be possible Brennen has watched the movie in which Jim is played by Neal Patrick Harris? thus transferring Harris' sexuality onto Jim?


LindaJ^ I have a very hard time seeing any sexual connotations in My Antonia. But then, we each read from a personal perspective and are touched differently as a result of our own personal experiences and current situation.


Kyle I have to agree with how you interpret this, in a way. In the book, I believe that Jim is completely and utterly a male. However, the author, Cather, was a lesbian woman in a time when homosexuality was very frowned upon. So I was taught that this book has something to do with her expressing her love for a female (Antonia) through a man's point of view, so as not to be blatant about her "transgression" against society.


Karen Kyle wrote: " n the book, I believe that Jim is completely and utterly a male. However, the author, Cather, was a lesbian woman in a time when homosexual..."

Totally agree with what Kyle said.


Maxine I see Jim less as transsexual than as fluid in his gender. He may be gay (as his barely-mentioned relationship with his teacher hints), but his masculinity conforms neither to the the "soft" stereotype of the gay man nor the conventional limits of masculinity at the time. While his identity as a biological woman seems rather a stretch, his companionship and affection for the prairie girls, particularly Antonia, seems more that of the equal comrade than a purely sexual attraction. No matter if he is straight, gay, or a transsexual lesbian, he is flexible in his sexuality and gender identity, and so is able to look at Antonia in a different way than any of the firmly "stereotypical" identities could.
And, as Kyle said, Willa Cather herself was a lesbian, and was likely expressing some of her own feelings through the figure of Jim.
Still, though a transsexual Jim is a stretch, it could be so.


Geoffrey I get annoyed with this obsession with homosexuality, gayness, transgender issues, etc. I wish people would stop already. It´s not funny. It´s not important. It´s as obnoxious as the evangelists who want to convert you into Jesus freaks.


Anthony Watkins Kyle wrote: "I have to agree with how you interpret this, in a way. In the book, I believe that Jim is completely and utterly a male. However, the author, Cather, was a lesbian woman in a time when homosexual..."

my take, too


Anthony Watkins Geoffrey wrote: "I get annoyed with this obsession with homosexuality, gayness, transgender issues, etc. I wish people would stop already. It´s not funny. It´s not important. It´s as obnoxious as the evangelists wh..."

wow! I don't think wondering about a gay authors character gender is obnoxious, even though I think the idea of jim being a woman is incorrect, it is a legitimate point of discussion. gotta say, whatever willas motivation, this book and the rest of the trilogy are wonderful and amazing books!


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Paul DeBusschere Anthony wrote: "Kyle wrote: "I have to agree with how you interpret this, in a way. In the book, I believe that Jim is completely and utterly a male. However, the author, Cather, was a lesbian woman in a time wh..."

Not everyone agrees with identifying Cather as a lesbian. To whit, "The scholar Janet Sharistanian has written, 'Cather did not label herself a lesbian nor would she wish us to do so, and we do not know whether her relationships with women were sexual. In any case, it is anachronistic to assume that if Cather's historical context had been different, she would have chosen to write overtly about homoerotic love.'" Source: Sharistanian, Janet. Introduction to My Ántonia, New York: Oxford University Press, 2006, p. xiii.


Anthony Watkins Wonder why she takes that position?


Janis Mills Have to agree that we all read from our own personal perspective and you interpret what you read from your world but I did not read and interpret the way you did. I did not see Jim Burden as a transgender at all.


i>Linda wrote: "I have a very hard time seeing any sexual connotations iqn My Antonia. But then, we each read from a personal perspective and are touched differently as a result of our own personal experiences and..."


Cheryl Chiarello No, Jim was just a nice young man brought up by kind grandparents after losing his own parents. It struck me how as book opened Jim was traveling west after his last parent died and it was just "on to a new place, new life" and no time for tawdry sadness like we would bawl our eyes out about today. In those "olden times" tragedy was always besetting everyone, I guess. You just sucked it up and got on with life. I was so glad Jim's grandparents were kind, loving people. The story of A's father back in Russia w/the horses/carriages after the wedding was incredible, so gripping. And as Antonia's life turned out happy, even tho' not with her Jim, and Jim's life turned out to his satisfaction, I was very glad.. No, Jim is not gay or trans, just a "nice young man" of his times.


message 19: by Monica (last edited Dec 28, 2016 07:05AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Monica Manolachi I was wondering why Willa Cather shortened the Introduction to this novel. The one from the 1918 edition is a bit longer than the 1926 edition. The paragraphs she deleted are about Jim's wife, Jim's occupation and the relationship between Jim and the author of the manuscript. I've read some passages about this aspect in a few studies, but they don't really explain why.


Cheryl Chiarello I escaped from high school and college never having read any Willa Cather, and so sometime this past year was when I "read" My Antonia, tho' I didn't read it but listened to an audiobook. And if you say Jim's wife is mentioned only in the introduction, perhaps that is why I don't ever recall hearing about a wife of Jim--I don't know in audiobooks if introductions are always read as part of the book-- I've heard some, to be sure, but I don't know about all. Anyway, I liked the teenaged Jim who was a good friend to Antonia (and she to him) and I was glad to see him return at the end to be a friend again to Antonia despite she was married with children. Because despite what many people believe, it IS possible that a man and an woman can be platonic (but devoted) friends.


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