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

Antonia had a big responsibility to help her family by learning a new language. Would you have been so willing to learn a new language and culture in order to help your family adjust like she did?

Children of immigrants don't have a "choice". They learn another language just to survive. My father was born in the US but he didn't learn to speak English until he was old enough to start attending school. It was just expected that he would adapt to the new situation. I think that's the same for all immigrant children.

I agree that I would have no choice but to conform to the culture and learn the language in order to fit in, but I would still remain true to my roots and enjoy my past culture as Antonia did.

Learning a new language is not an easy project. I moved to US nine years ago from Ukraine. Being able to speak fluently was my absolute desire. It hurts when you are not able to express your thoughts. What helped me is determination in pursuing my American Dream. You must have a strong motivation to do a big projects such as leaning a new language. Family happiness was Antonia’s motivation. She was an invisible thread connecting her family to the outside world.

I have a job in retail (one of three jobs...gotta love grad school!), and many of our customers are Hispanic. When the parents don't speak English, oftentimes the children serve as translators. I definitely get the impression that these kids are required to be more mature than their native-speaking counterparts, and I try to treat them and their parents with an equal amount of dignity. I do think it would be very, very difficult; in Antonia-with-an-accent-mark's case, she had the added burden of taking on physical labor to help keep the family afloat. I do wonder, though...if immigrants go to a new country by choice, why don't they put in the effort to learn the language? I'm not one to say "this is America, speak American," but it just baffles me that some immigrants who come here simply don't learn the language. Why? Why exclude yourself from such a large part of American society? And why put so much of a burden on your children?

As shown throughout the book, Antonia is willing to go against what is considered or deemed normal by society in order to survive and prosper, such as when the school girls had to behave while she worked and danced on the stage. I believe I would not have been willing to go through so much trouble to help my family, but that is because I do not have the drive and determination that Antonia had at such a young age. This is what makes her such a special character: she overcame adversity.

At Antonia's age when she had to learn a new language I had problems with allergies. I was usually tired and had frequent headaches. I really didn't have the energy to learn more than I had to learn to get by in school. My grandparents still spoke Pennsylvania Dutch at times. They taught me a few phrases that I still remember today. I'd have to say no I would not have had the energy or concentration at her age to learn a language to help my family.

I married a man whose parents only speak Japanese. I vowed that even though we are in the USA and this is where we are bringing up our daughter, I would learn the language and be able to have an intelligent conversation with my in-laws when they visited. Now (after a quarter century of marriage) I think I can maybe choke out four or five intelligent sentences. Meanwhile his dad has died at age 93 and his mother is declining. Fail!

I am a schoolteacher and do home visits where older children are often present to translate for their parents; Polish and Russian. I am constantly amazed by how soon, the children who enter my school, pick up English. Children have less inhibitions learning a new language.

If I had moved to a new country where I didn't speak the language I think I would have no choice, but to learn the language. I would go crazy not being able to talk to any one outside my family. Luckily at such a young age she was able to pick up on the language, because if she was older it might have been more of a challenge.

I have moved to a new country, and yes, I have learned the language. Simple.


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