Does Antonia have stronger feelings for Bohemia or for Nebraska? What does Antonia's predicament say about the immigrants during the time of the novel?

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merehughes eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Antonia’s feelings evolve during the course of the novel. Initially, she identifies all things connected with her father and her childhood with Bohemia but later when she has her own children, her feelings towards Nebraska have deepened.

The social order which is described in the book is very telling of the story of immigrants at the time. Essentially, the newest arrivals and especially those without any English skills are at a huge disadvantage. We see this in the situation with family and their arrival. Antonia is given the task of learning English for the family. Her skills help the family. Also telling is that the young girls from large immigrant families often found work in 'city' families doing laundry or child care. A good example of this is the story of Antonia's friend, Lena who 'rose' up from being hired help in other people's houses to owning her own dressmaking business.

daveb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To answer both questions similarly, Antonia's feelings towards Bohemia remain strong even as she grows accustomed to Nebraska, and this echoes the plight of many immigrants of the time.

To be sure, Antonia is much more affectionate towards Nebraska as the book ends. But, just as many immigrants did, she has surrounded herself with things that are at least somehow reminiscent of her Bohemian family. On the frontier, immigrant families would often stick together with other people or families with the same ethnic background; in this way, Antonia is choosing to keep a bit of her past even as she grows older, something that would likely not be done with her children were we to see them.

Dave Becker

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My Antonia

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