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My Ántonia

My Ántonia

by Willa Cather

Man and the Natural World Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

More than any other person we remembered, this girl seemed to mean to us the country, the conditions, the whole adventure of our childhood. (Introduction.5)

This is a key line and it helps us to interpret Ántonia not just as a character, but as a symbol. As we'll see in her "Character Analysis," Ántonia is very much tied – in Jim's mind – to the natural landscape of the Nebraskan prairie. It's important stuff, so be sure to check it out.

Quote #2

There was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the material out of which countries were made. I had the feeling that the world was left behind, that we had got over the edge of it, and were outside man's jurisdiction. I had never before looked up at the sky when there was not a familiar mountain ridge against it. But this was the complete dome of heaven, all there was of it […]. Between that earth and that sky I felt erased, blotted out (1.1.10).

Can you start to see why we venture a theory that the Nebraskan prairie – in all its vast expanse – is a little bit like the prospect of growing up for Jim? Jim faces adulthood as something vast and unknowable, something that is intimidating but to be respected, just like the landscape.

Quote #3

Ambrosch and Ántonia were both old enough to work in the fields, and they were willing to work. But the snow and the bitter weather had disheartened them all...(1.10.24)

This is a kind of foreshadowing to Mr. Shimerda's upcoming suicide, which you could argue is the result of the tough winter months. The natural elements have a strong influence on the lives of the characters.

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