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My Ántonia

My Ántonia

by Willa Cather

Love Theme

Love is a tricky business in My Ántonia, as it's never exactly clear just what the novel's narrator (Jim) feels for his childhood friend, Ántonia. Whether it's puppy love, infatuation, deep-rooted respect, curiosity, or just plain hormones, love can be found in all its forms in this novel. Because My Ántonia can be considered a coming-of-age novel (see "Genre"), love is wrapped up in the trials and tribulations of growing up. Love is in some cases tied to respect and admiration; other times associated with lust and sexuality. In many forms it is sub textual. Cather is rarely explicit about just what her characters are feelings, perhaps because those characters aren't exactly sure themselves.

Questions About Love

  1. How would you characterize Jim's love for Ántonia? Ántonia's love for Jim?
  2. How do Jim's feelings for Ántonia change over the course of the novel?
  3. What is the difference between Jim's love for Lena and his love for Ántonia?
  4. At what point in the novel (if ever) are you certain that Jim loves Ántonia?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Jim is fundamentally romantically incompatible with Ántonia.

Jim and Ántonia are perfect for each other.

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