Discuss the different characters in My Antonia and how they work both with and against each other to bring the narrative's intrigue full circle by its end.
Even though most of the characters Cather focuses on are women, she narrates from a male perspective, I suppose, to keep a more objective distance.
In the "Sample Outline" section of the Study Guide examines the roles of women and immigrants, the two most important groups that Jim focuses on:
Willa Cather has chosen to represent many of these characters as successful and independent women, much like herself.
I.Thesis Statement: Many of the females in My Antonia achieve a success and independence that had once been reserved for men.
A. Works farm like a man
B. Makes wages and spends money
C. Moves west
D. Becomes head of household on Cuzak farm
III. Frances Harling
A. Helps father in his business
B. Helps townspeople avoid Wick Cutter
C. Makes money and buys gifts
IV. Lena Lingard
A. Becomes dressmaker
B. Moves to Lincoln and opens shop
C. Won’t marry and be subservient to a man
D. Lives a single, carefree life
V. Tiny Soderball
A. Works as a single woman at a hotel
B. Starts a lodging house in Seattle
C. Helps found Dawson City during gold rush
D. Moves to San Francisco a wealthy and independent woman
VI. Conclusion: Willa Cather is implying her own success as an independent woman by making many of her fictional female characters independent and successful.
AND with the immigrants:
I. Thesis Statement: Willa Cather wants to emphasize the importance of character in surviving the ordeals of immigrant life on the prairie.
II. Antonia is full of good qualities
A. Praises Jim for killing snake
B. Works hard in fields and at Harlings
C. Learns English quickly from Jim
D. Survives her fathers suicide and Larry Donovan’s leaving her
III. Other hired girls have good qualities
A. Lena wants to build a house for mother
B. Lena runs her business with intelligence
C. Lena has compassion for others and she cries in the theater
D. Tiny is generous and independent
IV. Townspeople seem listless and unlikable
A. Wick Cutter is devious and ugly
B. Mrs. Cutter is loud and ugly
C. Salesmen at the hotel are unlikable
D. Townspeople at dances are dull and snobbish
V. Immigrants without admirable qualities don’t become successful
A. Russian Peter recounts his horrible deed and dies
B. Mr. Shimerda is feeble and weak-minded and dies
C. Mrs. Shimerda is miserable and lives unhappy life
D. Ambrosch is unfriendly and unlikable
VI. Conclusion: Through the fate or fortune of characters in the novel, Willa Cather depicts the importance of virtues by failure or success.
Obviously, Antonia is the hero of the novel as she is both the ideal woman and immigrant: hardworking, self-sufficient, independent and a family person, resilient, and intelligent. In fact, Antonia is Nebraska herself: she is mother earth. Speaking of Antonia, Jim ends the novel thusly:
..she still had that something which fires the imagination.... All the strong things of her heart came out in her body.... She was a rich mine of life, like the founders of early races.
We won't write your essay for you, so an outline will have to do.
I'd like to add another possible idea, though I don't know what sort of intrigue the question is suggesting.
It's easy to show the growth that Jim and Antonia go through, and between the time we first meet them and the last book, they are in very dofferent places. It's easy to suggest that despite being poor financially, Antonia is rich in things that don't have monetary value, so you could easily pair the two main characters and use them for your question.