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Free Essays Criticism Of My Antonia

874 words - 4 pages

Criticism of My Antonia

 

 

My Antonia by Willa Cather is a novel based on the memories of the protagonist, Jim Burden. Many critics have criticized this novel, and have focused on such literary elements as symbolism, motif, and characterization. The strongest argument however is the one that states that the foundation of every element in the book is based on the personal memories of Willa Cather.

 

Many critics have discussed the symbolism in this novel. One symbol that some critics have discussed is the plow. It was said that the plow suggests a way of life that not only helps the land to flourish but the individual as well (Brown). Another symbol that many ...view middle of the document...

 

Another element of the novel that critics spent a lot of time discussing is characterization. One critic pointed out the fact that many of the characters in My Antonia have imperfections in their physical appearance that seem to bring out the imperfections of society that exist, and put the ideas of "social perfection" on the back-burner (Randall). Some examples of these imperfections are the scar on Otto Fuchs' cheek, Marek Shimerda's webbed fingers, the fact that Anton Cuzak had one shoulder that was higher than the other, and Antonia's teeth that made her face appear swollen most of the time. These character traits seem to tie in with the adulthood motif; with all of the imperfections and hardships that appear like those that appear in adulthood.

 

Another part of the characterization that is discussed by the critics is that as children, Antonia and Jim were blind to the imperfections of society, for example greed and jealousy, and they thought that everyone was all in all good (Randall). This characterization ties into the childhood motif, which emphasizes the innocence of children.

 

The strongest criticism is the one that states that Willa Cather uses memories over and over again throughout many of her novels to represent many different things. It seems that ideas for characters, settings, and plots all come from personal memories from Cather. One critic said that memory has a few different functions in My Antonia. For example, the memories help the reader to "discover and imagine an almost endless number of ways in which memory inspires and terrifies, comforts and...

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