In Willa Cather's novel, My Ántonia, what is it that makes Ántonia a genuinely heroic figure?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Willa Cather's novel, My Antonia, I think that the aspect of Ántonia which makes her a truly heroic figure is that no matter how difficult her life becomes, from losing her father to suicide, or having a child out of wedlock, she is able to hold on to her sense of what is important in her life.

While Ántonia is glad for the time she had in town, and the ability it gave her to learn important lessons of the world to pass on to her children, she finds her joy and purpose in working on the land.

As we walked through the apple orchard, grown up in tall bluegrass, Ántonia kept stopping to tell me about one tree and another. 'I love them as if they were people,' she said, rubbing her hand over the bark...

'We'd have never got through if I hadn't been so strong. I've always had good health, thank God, and I was able to help him in the fields until right up to the time before my babies came...

'No, I never got down-hearted...I belong on a farm. I'm never lonesome here like I used to be in town. I've never had [sad spells] out here. And I don't mind work a bit...'

'You ought never to have gone to town, Tony,' I said, wondering at her.

'Oh, I'm glad I went! I'd never have known anything about cooking or housekeeping if I hadn't.'

Ántonia's heroic character is seen in her dedication to the people she came from, her work ethic, her common sense, and her indestructible spirit which cost so many other pioneers their lives on the beautiful, yet at times menacing, prairies of the Nebraska frontier.

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My Antonia

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