Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 288
• Research the various groups of immigrants who came to the United States during the first part of the twentieth century. Who were they? Why did they leave their homelands? Where did they settle? What jobs did they perform? When did your family arrive in the United States? Can you link their history to larger patterns of immigration to or migration within the United States? Though you will want to use your school library to gather background information, you should also interview older members of your family. Like Rosicky, they might have memories they wish to share with you.
• ‘‘Neighbour Rosicky’’ was written just before the Great Depression. During the early 1930s especially, farmers faced many hardships, including foreclosures on their farms. In addition, long periods of drought turned the usually fertile plains of the United States into a ‘‘dust bowl,’’ and many families fled their farms seeking better conditions elsewhere. By investigating the conditions farmers faced in the thirties, think about whether Rosicky’s dream that his children remain and farm his land was likely to come true. Do you think that Rudolph and Polly remained on the farm? What might their life have been like if they had? If they had not?
• Though Cather celebrates the contributions that immigrants made to the growth and development of the United States, many American citizens remained suspicious and distrustful of foreign influences. In 1919, at the direction of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, people suspected of subversive activity were arrested and jailed, often without cause. Many were immigrants active in labor movements. Research the Palmer Raids of the early twenties. How does the fear and distrust of foreigners caused by the raids contrast to the portrayal of foreigners in ‘‘Neighbour Rosicky’’?
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