In Willa Cather's novel, My Ántonia, give two examples of how either the landscape descriptions symbolize a character's feelings......or communicate the atmosphere of a situation?

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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One of the first things that struck me about the novel, My Ántonia, by Willa Cather, was the author's impressive use of imagery woven throughout the story. This answer deals with Chapter Two.

One of my favorite passages is:

Perhaps the glide of long railway travel was still with me, for more than anything else I felt motion in the landscape; in the fresh, easy-blowing morning wind, and in the earth itself, as if the shaggy grass were a sort of loose hid, and the underneath it herds of wile buffalo.

In this case, I feel that the landscape's description communicates the atmosphere of the wild Nebraska prairie. Cather creates a sense of the wild, untamed land years before this wilderness would be tamed. When Jim first arrives, he is among settlers, "local" and foreign, who attempt to battle nature and endure. The passage describes the motion of the landscape, either the waving grasses, or Jim's sense of the life of the earth beneath the surface, compared to galloping buffalo.

The second passage is also found in Chapter Two, but deals with the landscape's description to symbolize Jim's feelings. The details of the landscape are found in the minute details of the ground, teeming with life, around him.

The earth was warm under me, and warm as I crumbled it through my fingers. Queer little red bugs came out and moved in slow squadrons around me. Their backs were polished vermilion, with black spots. I kept as still as I could. Nothing happened. I did not expect anything to happen. I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.

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