My Antonia Questions and Answers
by Willa Cather

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How does Cather's use of setting in My Antonia move the novel through its paces? How does it bring to the reader's attention to both the beauty and the devastation that make up a farmer's life on the Midwest prairie?

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agirard eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Willa Cather’s 1918 novel, My Antonia, is a perfect example of literary regionalism. The Nebraskan landscape directly contributes to the emotional growth (or decline, in some cases) and the physical actions of the characters as the novel progresses. How Jim views the land is particularly important, as the story is told through his perspective.

When Jim arrives in Nebraska after setting off west from Virginia upon the death of his parents, he notes that “there seemed to be nothing to see” there and that “there was nothing but land.” His description of Nebraska as essentially blank and unchartered land, “the material out of which countries are made,” parallels his own life at that moment. Jim is newly orphaned and in a new land right at the time in his life when a young boy transitions into a man. As American expansion takes hold in Nebraska, causing incredible growth and change, the same is happening for Jim.

An important concept to keep in mind for this period in American...

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Further Reading:

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