My Antonia Essay

Submitted By gramlin2
Words: 697
Pages: 3

Graham Reich
Just the Two of Us

Throughout Willa Cather’s My Antonia the relationships between characters are readily apparent. From the moment new characters are introduced, bonds are formed between them, bonds that help to give the story layers and diversity. Along the duration of the book these layers help to paint an image far greater than those words of the writer. The emotions evoked by these characters expand beyond the possible written range and help to fully initiate us into the characters heads as well as our own. By the connections between these characters Cather provides a more complete swathe of society. Through Cather’s use of duality in the comparison of characters, the story becomes a much fuller and richer piece of literature. The first major use of duality in the novel appears in the comparison of the two Shimerda brothers, Ambrosch and Marek. While Ambrosch exhibits cold, assertive qualities, Marek is his opposite merely looking for acceptance and recognition without the maturity to gain these for himself “as he approached us, he began to make uncouth noises, and held up his hands to show us his fingers which were webbed to the first knuckle like a duck’s foot”(14) the dualism between these two characters molds within the reader, forcing them to decide on their own whether to trust or distrust the Shimerdas. While Ambrosch might seem cold to the reader he has merely been shaped by those around him. Put under such pressure to be the familie’s future in America, “Ambrosch, he make good farmer. He struck Ambrosch on the back and the boy smiled knowingly”(15) this boy must become cold and assertive if he ever wants to achieve

the success he knows is required of him “When Jake asked for the collar,he grunted and scratched his head”(63). For a boy such as Marek the exact opposite of him is required, leading to a character similar to what Ambrosch might have exhibited had the family not been put in such a situation. Nothing is expected of Marek and he craves to belong as well as fit into his place, not step ahead and lead as is expected of his brother. This expands the dimensions of the book, each of us grappling with the thoughts of our own lifes, our own Mareks and Ambrosches. A second major use of duality in the novel is the relationship between the two suicides of Mr. Shimerda and Mr. Cutter. Mr. Shimerda commits suicide out of the wish not to disappoint his family, and out of extreme religious faith “A lighted lantern was kept hanging over Mr. Shimerda’s head. Antonia and Ambrosch and the mother took turns going down to pray beside him”(51). When he passes away the other characters