Explain this quotation from Cather's "Neighbor Rosicky" and say what it indicates about Anton Rosicky's personal characteristics and values: "That's it; you can help her a little. My Lord,...

Explain this quotation from Cather's "Neighbor Rosicky" and say what it indicates about Anton Rosicky's personal characteristics and values: "That's it; you can help her a little. My Lord, Rosicky, you are one of the few men I know who has a family he can get some comfort out of; happy dispositions, never quarrel among themselves, and they treat you right. I want to see you live a few years and enjoy them."

Asked on by mrmr123

1 Answer | Add Yours

kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

"My Lord, Rosicky, you are one of the few men I know who has a family he can get some comfort out of; happy dispositions, never quarrel among themselves, and they treat you right. I want to see you live a few years and enjoy them."

This quote in “Neighbor Rosicky” is spoken by Dr. Burleigh to Rosicky when the doctor tells Rosicky that Rosicky’s heart is having some difficulty and he therefore needs to do less strenuous work. Dr. Ed, as he is called, suggests that Rosicky can stay in the house for the winter, instead of going tot work in the barn or with the machinery, and “help” Mary “a little,” maybe by doing some repairs or tailoring work. The easiest way to get at the meaning of the very American sounding sentence with common idiomatic phrases like, "get some comfort out of," "never quarrel among themselves," and "treat you right," is to look first at the opposite of its actual meaning.

What Dr. Burleigh is not saying, therefore, is that Rosicky is one of the men the doctor knows who has a family with members who are mean-spirited and quarrelsome and have unhappy dispositions, who are angry or complaining or resentful all the time. A family like this can never provide a happy home life and the comfort of a peaceful life and the satisfaction of a job well done, because such a family always quarrels and disobeys the father and acts with disrespect toward him while dishonoring him. There--that is what the doctor does not mean by what he says.

Now it is easier to see what he does mean. Rosicky is one of the few men whom the doctor knows who has a family made up of members who can give the father the comfort of a peaceful and loving home, along with the comfort of knowing his parenting job was well done. The family members have happy dispositions and are friendly, loving, gentle and kind toward one another. They don't quarrel with each other, and they respect the father while obeying him and honoring him and doing their share of work on the farm with good will and enthusiasm. Dr. Ed wants Rosicky to work less so he will live longer and be around his family to enjoy the hapiness they give him longer.

This tells the reader that Rosicky values all these things and conducts his life and his job of parenting--after marrying a woman with his same values and ideas--in such a way that these values and qualities have been successfully taught to his children. As Cather writes: "'Oh, they're good kids, all right,' Rosicky, assented."

We’ve answered 318,911 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question