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Word Count: 619
1 Willa Cathers My Antonia is about the hardy people who risked their lives and fortunes in a harsh new land Cather had the great good fortune to have lived among the first generation of white settlers in 1880s Nebraska and she gives witness to their time and place in such a way that American literature will never forget them vii The lives and hardships of the people interest me greatly with the different personalities and stamina it must have taken to survive through the tough times of that age 2 While Europe figures in My Antonia as a lost Eden or a repository of terrible secrets that haunts the immigrants in their new land the novel is solidly grounded in America its language the uncluttered idiom of the farmers and townspeople of Webster County Nebraska ix Once again Kathleen Norris comments on the hardships and secrets that haunt the immigrants and townspeople that settled in the frontier 3 In My Antonia Jim Burden says of his first glimpse of Nebraska There was nothing but land not a country at all but the material out of which countries are made ofx Kathleen Norris speaks of the country itself in this excerpt She describes in very few words that the land was nothing but land but the people there were the makings of a country 4 Kathleen Norris said her thoroughly realistic picture of the lives of Nebraska homesteaders even as she employs what one critic derisively termed heroic idealism that makes My Antonia so remarkable Her famous image of a plough magnified across the distance by the horizonal light standing out against the sun is anything but romantic when taken in the context of Antonia Shimerdas difficult life Visiting her after an absence of twenty years after tragedies and disappointments have come to them both Jim Burden finds Antonia at the center of
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