My Ántonia

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Novel by Willa Cather, published in 1918.

Jim Burden and Ántonia Shimerda arrive as children in pioneer Black Hawk, Neb., he from Virginia and she with her family from Bohemia. With his companion, Jake Mar-pole, and the frontiersman and hired man Otto Fuchs, Jim lives on his grandparents' prosperous farm; but the Shimerdas are tricked into buying a squalid, undeveloped tract, where the impractical, music-loving father attempts to create a farm, aided by his vulgar, nagging wife, their grown son Am-brosch, the adolescent Ántonia, her young sister Yulka, and the idiot boy Marek. Although the Burdens aid him with food and supplies, Shimerda in homesick despair commits suicide, and Jim's grandfather employs Ambrosch and Ántonia, who later has to work in the fields. After the Burdens move to town, Ántonia becomes a maid in the household of their neighbors. Despite her trying experiences with various employers, including amorous old Wick Cutter, she remains quiet, sincere, and industrious. Jim, after attending the state university and Harvard, learns of Ántonia's elopement with Larry Donovan, a railway conductor who deserts her and her child. She then returns in disgrace to work on her brother's farm. Twenty years later when Jim visits Nebraska, he finds her a stalwart, middle-aged farm wife, married to mild, friendly Anton Cuzak. They have many children, and it is Ántonia's strength that maintains the family, but she still possess the laughter and inner core of. pioneer integrity which always distinguished her. “She was a rich mine of life, like the founders of early races.”

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Willa Cather (1873—1947) American novelist and short-story writer

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