In My Antonia, how does the narrator use adjectives and descriptive phrases to convey his feelings of awe and intimidation regarding the character he describes?

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It is clear from this moving and lyrical novel that Antonia is a character who exerts a curious magnetism and fascination on the narrator. One of the most memorable descriptions about this character comes towards the very end of the novel, when the narrator has met up with her once again after a long period of absence. Note the following description that he uses to describe the power of her character and personality:

Antonia had always been one to leave images in the mind that did not fade--that grew stronger with time... She lent herself to immemorial human attitudes which we recognise by instinct as universal and true. I had not been mistaken. She was a battered woman now, not a lovely girl; but she still had that something which fires the imagination, could still stop one's breath for a moment by a look or gesture that somehow revealed the meaning in common things.

Phrases such as "immemorial human attitudes" accompanied by adjectives such as "universal" and "true" clearly present her character as being linked to awe and intimidation. There is something about her that, whether in her youth or middle-age, still captures something of the quintessential essence of being human. She is a character who enlarges one's understanding of life, who is able to expose the "meaning in common things" through her very existence. This novel is in many ways a homage to Antonia, and, as the title suggests, the narrator feels very possessive towards her.

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