Why does young Jim come to Nebraska to live?

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litelle209 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Well, yes, the previous answer is correct, Jim is an orphan and has to travel to Nebraska to live with his grandparents. This makes for an interesting story though, because that fact that he is an orphan and a boy is a sort of reversal of the the orphaned girl traveling westward in the sentimental or domestic fiction of the 19th century. Within this tradition there is usually a coming of age embedded in the narrative and I think the interesting feature about Cather's novel is that she frames the coming of age story of a number of girls ( Antonia, the hired girls in town) through her male narrator. There is a gender-bender element in the novel because within the American literary tradition male protagonists travel to the West for adventure, freedom,  and to negotiate masculinity on the frontier. Jim on the other hand is an orphaned boy and Antonia is the one who embodies the masculine traits in the text-she loads hay and works like a man e.g. . I suggest that, yes, the reason he comes to Nebraska is because he is orphaned, but the journey is a reframing of gender, possibility and America's westward expansion.

mylo | Student

He's an orphan.

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My Antonia

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