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My Ántonia

My Ántonia

by Willa Cather

Gender Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

But Mr. Shimerda had not been rich and selfish: he had only been so unhappy that he could not live any longer. (1.14.30)

Jim has a keen sense of sympathy and is able to understand the complicated emotions going on around him. This is stereotypically a more feminine trait, and yet it is the central male character who embodies it.

Quote #2

Nowadays Tony could talk of nothing but […] how much she could lift and endure. She was too proud of her strength. I knew, too, that Ambrosch put upon her some chores a girl ought not to do, and that the farm-hands around the country joked in a nasty way about it. (1.17.23)

Does Jim resent the fact that the neighbors are talking about Ántonia, or does he resent that she is more masculine than he is? That is, is he driven by social concerns or gender concerns?

Quote #3

"Oh, better I like to work out-of-doors than in a house!" she used to sing joyfully. "I not care that your grandmother say it makes me like a man. I like to be like a man." She would toss her head and ask me to feel the muscles swell in her brown arm. (1.19.3)

Does Ántonia feel pride in her manliness, or is she pretending – as she will later pretend to hide her tears about school – to enjoy the life she knows she has to live? On what evidence do you base your assessment?

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