In "Neighbor Rosicky," how does the area in which Anton Rosicky lives reflect his values? How does Rosicky change throughout the story due to the different settings he experiences? Don’t forget...

In "Neighbor Rosicky," how does the area in which Anton Rosicky lives reflect his values? How does Rosicky change throughout the story due to the different settings he experiences? Don’t forget to reflect on the many different settings Anton has experienced in his life, from his childhood to current day, to support your thoughts. 

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gpane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After many years of struggle, change and travelling as an immigrant, Rosicky finally comes to settle on a Nebraska farm and he draws great strength from these surroundings. The rich, peaceful countryside reflects his own sense of serenity and goodwill towards others. He is at peace with himself and the world, and the land which he farms is very dear to him. The one thing that troubles him, perhaps, is the thought that his sons won't remain on the farm.

The farm essentially reflects Rosicky's sense of a deep belonging and commitment to the natural world, far from the artifice and struggle of cities. This bond with nature was formed early in his life when, following his mother's death he was sent to live with his grandparents in the countryside back in his homeland. It was here that he

formed these ties with the earth and the farm animals and growing things which are never made at all unless they are made early.

Therefore, from early in his life he forms a connection with the land, the countryside which sustains him throughout his life and to which he has finally returned. It gives him a sense of rootedness, of security. There is a sense of deep permanence about the farm land, which also characterises Rosicky.

In the course of the story we get many glimpses into Rosicky's earlier life, when as a young man he first went to London and then New York. His experience of urban life abroad was on the whole not pleasant, although he does have some fond recollections of New York. His life in London appears to have been the worst experience of his life, a time of grinding poverty and struggle. And, although he liked New York at first, in time he became dissatisfied with it also: there is a sense of 'blankness' and emptiness there. 

It struck young Rosicky that this was the trouble with big cities; they built you in from the earth itself, cemented you away from any contact with the ground.You lived in an unnatural world ....

Rosicky, then,comes to compare life in the big city unfavourably with life in the countryside. In cities, he feels that people become divorced from nature, and he wants to get back to nature. Therefore, there is a certain dichotomy between city and country life in Rosicky's view which comes from his longstanding personal experience of both.

Not that life in the country is necessarily easy; Rosicky and his family have seen their share of hardships on the farm. But, reflects Rosicky, on the farm there is room and opportunity to heal, to begin over. Also, he feels that although there are 'mean' people everywhere, the worst specimens are those that he encountered in the cities. Besides, in the country, it's easier to keep away from unpleasant people:

In the country, if you had a mean neighbour, you could keep off his land and make him keep off yours. But in the city, all the foulness and misery and brutality of your neighbours was part of your life.

In short, Rosicky's experiences have shown him that true peace, security and a sense of belonging is to be found only in the country. There are fewer people struggling and competing as there are in the big cities. However, it is also strongly suggested that he wouldn't have come to love the countryside so much if he hadn't experienced it very early on, as a child.

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Neighbor Rosicky

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