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In "Wagner's Matinee" by Willa Cather, Aunt Georgiana and Clark attend a symphony of...

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cknutson4 | eNoter

Posted July 28, 2013 at 1:36 PM via web

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In "Wagner's Matinee" by Willa Cather, Aunt Georgiana and Clark attend a symphony of Wagner's music.  Explain Georgiana's feelings about the concert.   

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 28, 2013 at 4:59 PM (Answer #1)

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“Wagner’s Matinee” by Willa Cather introduces Aunt Georgiana.  The story’s point of view is first person with Clark, her nephew, the narrator.  Clark receives a letter that his aunt will be coming to Boston to take care of some business: "Her husband asked if she could stay with me.  Of course!"

Aunt Georgiana had been a gifted musician.  She was a musician/teacher at the Boston Conservatory.  However, love took her away from her music.  After marrying a farmer, they moved to a farm in Nebraska. It had been a long time since she had attended a concert. 

The narrator stayed with his aunt for three years. She gave Clark attention and taught him about life and music.

"My aunt had six children.  The work on the farm was hard.  When I picked up my aunt at the station, I noticed her misshapen body and rough hands."

Having made the decision to go to the concert, he wondered if he had made the right decision. Would she feel uncomfortable in her homemade clothes?  This was a revelation for both the aunt and the nephew. 

It has been so long since the aunt had heard symphony music.  Clark did not know if he had made the right decision to go to the concert. While in the concern, what were the aunt’s reactions?

When they entered the hall, she was less passive and more animated.

She sat looking around the hall taking everything in to her memory.

Aunt Georgiana reacts to the musicians when they take their seats.

I could feel how all those details sank into her soul, for I had not forgotten how they had sunk into mine when I came fresh from ploughing forever and forever between green aisles of corn, where, as in a treadmill

For thirty years, Clark’s aunt had not heard the beauty of the blending of the instruments.  He looked at her and she had her eyes closed. 

As the concert continues, her reactions to the music included tears, smiles, and joy. 

At the end, Aunt Georgiana told Clark that she did not want to leave.  Having experienced the world of music again, Clark’s dear aunt did not want to return to the world of cows, corn, and snakes.  She had received a taste of the music and now she wanted more: "My aunt wanted to stay in the world she had forgotten existed."

Aunt Georgiana’s feelings include joy for the return to music; she felt regret for the music that she had lost.  What she will do about the future only Willa Cather knows.

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