In the book My Antonia, how does the symbolism of dancing show something about the characters?

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slcollins | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

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The way that different characters react to the dancing pavilion reveals a lot about them. The hired girls (Antonia, Lena, etc) all enjoy dancing at the pavilion, while the town girls do not. The town girls sit on the sidelines and watch. This contrast shows us that the hired girls are more comfortable with themselves and haven’t been raised with the more strict social standards that the town girls have been raised with.  The town girls see the dancing and carousing with boys/men as inappropriate behavior; indeed it would have been during that time period. The way the hired girls react shows us that they have been raised to embrace life to the fullest, regardless of what others might think. The way the boys/men react to the dancing tells us a lot, as well.  Jimmy is drawn to the dancing pavilion, even though his grandparents look down upon it. He might be a town boy, but he will always feel more comfortable around the hired girls; after all, Antonia was his first friend when he moved to Black Hawk.

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