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My Antonia Non-traditional Gender Roles Boys will be boys is a clich often used when males exemplify the traits of wild abandoned exploration or use poor judgment in situations due to a desire to fulfill self These traits however are seen as great downfalls and serious cause for concern should females display the same characteristics Willa Cather beautifully portrays characters that defy stereotypical gender roles in her novel My Antonia Not only do the main characters Jim Burden and Antonia Shimerdas not conform to traditional gender roles but neither do many of the lesser characters presented in the novel The relevance of these non-stereotypical gender rolls becomes apparent in the unfolding of characters through Jim Burdens narration This novel fully explores the changes in young women in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries towards traditional roles Women of this time period desire to make their own choices in life rather than submit to societys dictated rules Antonia Shimerdas is a curious mixture of both male and female gender traits She is an anxious young girl seeking knowledge of any kind when she comes to live in America She is always ready to forget her troubles at home and run away with Jim over the prairie 54 looking for excitement and fun She takes on decidedly male characteristics after her fathers death to the point she even brags about how much ploughing she has done that day 118 Antonia is a strong practical young woman with few illusions concerning life yet she is able to reconcile her disillusionment within herself to create a peaceful happy home for her children Her hard work strong values and sincere concern for others allow forgiveness of her masculine superiority at home She is courageous and stubborn in fulfilling her own personal desires as are many men yet she is able to ascertain which moments or periods of her life require the female gender roles and behaves accordingly Antonia depicts
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