American dream amer Essay example

Submitted By Raven-Des Jardins
Words: 1030
Pages: 5

Raven Des Jardins
H. American Lit essay
My Antonia vs. American Dream Willa Cather's My Antonia tells the story of Antonia Shimerda, a Bohemian immigrant growing up in early twentieth-century rural Nebraska. The story is told through the perspective of a boy named Jim Burden, in the form of a memoir featuring random memories having to do with Antonia. To Jim, Antonia is the symbol of his youth. He sees her as full of energy and life, and is perhaps drawn to her because of this, to fill a gap in his quiet, observational personality. The story focuses on Antonia, and her struggles as an immigrant woman struggling to balance her goal to get as much out of life with the poverty she is caught in. Antonia's family emigrates to Nebraska from their country Bohemia and buys a small homestead for an exorbitant price, and only knows one person in the country who speaks their language. Her family has almost nothing, and the first we are told of the Shimerdas is: "They can't any of them speak English, except one little girl, and all she can say is 'We go to Black Hawk, Nebraska.'" (18). Antonia, however, sets out to learn with a vengeance. She devours knowledge during English lessons from Jim, and the two form a friendship. Her life was apparently not meant to be easy, however. Antonia had always been close with her father, and, following his suicide, she is devastated. It had been a difficult winter for the family, and without her father the family is rudderless. Antonia's older brother, Ambrosch took over for the family, and instead of going to the nearby country school, Antonia worked in the fields with her brother. She lamented this loss of education, for her father had had quite a bit of higher education and Antonia looked up to him even after his death. She continued to try her hardest to impress her brother though, and to do as much labor as she can. She quickly becomes boastful about her farming skills, and the muscle she has built. She seems to have lost her vivacious charm that was so entrancing to Jim when he first met her, and during a visit to Jim's, he asks her why she is always trying to be someone other than herself. Antonia, just a teenager, replies "If I live here, like you, that is different. Things will be easy for you. But they will be hard for us." (124). At her young age Antonia already knows the challenges of being European immigrants in the newly settled country, equality is something she knows she will never have fully. The American Dream may be an image everyone has in their heads, but for some it is harder to achieve than others, even impossible due to prejudices. Antonia has lived in America only for several years and already been a firsthand witness to this injustice. The tale of Antonia continues through Jim's high school career, when his family moves into the nearby town so that Jim can have an education. The same year, the Shimerdas can no longer feed themselves, and so Antonia is sent to work as a hired girl and send her wages back to her family. The house that hires Antonia is coincidentally next to Jim's new house, and so the saga continues. Conflict arises when Antonia begins to frequent the dancing halls. Though she is considered rough by many of the more refined townsfolk, she develops a passion for dancing and takes every opportunity she can get to go, and this upsets the people that have hired her as a live-in servant girl. The problem is that Antonia's dancing with many different partners has given her a reputation, and the family felt as though it would come back to them negatively. Rather than quit, Antonia goes to work for another house that doesn't care. Even when faced with resistance, Antonia chooses to follow the path she wishes, embodying