Why does Antonia hold onto the old ways in My Antonia?
The way in which Antonia has held on to the "old ways" and the original pioneer spirit is made evident by the way she is described at the end of this excellent novel when the narrator visits her out at her farm. She is clearly living the kind of life that she lived as a child when she first came with her parents to make a living off the land, and although it is a hard life, that has meant she has lost something of her original beauty, it is one that makes her happy. It is clear from what Cuzak says to the narrator that it is Antonia who wants them to stay working out on the land. Note what he says:
"It was a pretty hard job, breaking up this place and making the first crops grow," he said, pushing back his hat and scratching his grizzled hair. "Sometimes I git awful sore on this place and want to quit, but my wife she always say we better stick it out. The babies come along pretty fast, so it look like it be hard to move, anyhow. I guess she was right, all right. We got this place clear now."
Antonia is therefore clearly the driving force behind their living out in the countryside, and working the land. After experiencing the corruption of city life and the kind of moral compromises that many of her friends and herself were forced into, Antonia presumably feels that there is a kind of innocence in the "old ways" of living off the land and being self-sufficient that is appealing and attractive.