My Antonia Introduction
by Willa Cather

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So you’re going to teach Willa Cather's My Ántonia. Whether it’s your first or hundredth time, this classic text has been a mainstay of English classrooms for generations. Teaching this richly profound novel to your class will be a worthwhile and rewarding enterprise for both you and your students. It will give them unique insight into valuable rhetorical, literary concepts such as personification and point-of-view; along with powerfully resonant themes such as perseverance, memory, and the wonder of the human struggle for survival. This guide highlights the text’s most salient aspects to keep in mind before you begin teaching. 

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Facts at a Glance 

  • Publication Date: 1918
  • Recommended Grade Level: 9 and up
  • Approximate Word Count: 81,800 
  • Author: Willa Cather 
  • Country of Origin: United States of America 
  • Genre: Historical Fiction 
  • Literary Period: Modernism 
  • Conflict: Person vs. Nature, Person vs. Society 
  • Narration: First-Person 
  • Setting: Nebraska, 1880s 
  • Structure: Prose Novel 
  • Tone: Nostalgic, Wistful

Texts that Go Well with My Ántonia

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. Set in China, this 1931 American novel chronicles a poor farmer’s rise to prosperity through unfailing dedication to the land. Like My Ántonia, it provides a more nuanced commentary on the rags-to-riches narrative. 

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. This classic American novel is another acclaimed representation of the struggle for survival in the United States. As the epic story details an Oklahoma family’s move to California during the Dust Bowl period of the 1930s, it is historically a fitting follow-up to My Ántonia. For a shorter read, Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men also works. 

Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island , ed. Him Lai and Genny Lim. San Francisco Bay’s Angel Island was an immigration station for approximately one million migrants in the early 20th century. These migrants were mostly from Asia, and in the wake of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, Angel Island was more a prison than a...

(The entire section is 502 words.)