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Word Count: 865
Characterization in A Wagner Matinee During the 1800s there was an increase in immigration to the great plains due to an abundance of free land offered by the Homestead Act Many individuals and families went west to seek their fortune and a home on what was once called the great American desert Moving westward was a difficult process and many were forced to leave their old lives behind completely In A Wagner Matinee written by Willa Cather the characterization of Aunt Georgiana a woman who leaves Boston to elope with a young man going west is used to illustrate the theme that sometimes decisions need to be made and although one might regret it one love must be sacrificed for another One way that Cather uses characterization to illustrate this theme is through direct statements about Georgiana and physical descriptions Right away Cather tells us that Georgiana is or was a pianist of some accomplishment She once worked as an instructor at the Boston Conservatory of Music For a woman to achieve this status in the time A Wagner Matinee is set was an extraordinary thing The music she chose to give up was surely something she loved very dearly and was very proud of The physical description of Aunt Georgiana shows the hardships she had to endure because of her sacrifice The narrator of the story Georgianas nephew Clark describes her as having yellow and leathery skin and wearing ill-fitting false teeth These physical defects were the result of a pitiless wind and the alkaline water along with other hardships of the Nebraska frontier The most biting description of Aunt Georgiana is the repeated image of her hands She was once a great pianist but from work on the farm in Nebraska her hands have been reduced to twisted knots of flesh with oddly bent tentacle-like fingers This description best illustrates her sacrifice as her hands were the most vital thing to
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