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My Ántonia

My Ántonia

by Willa Cather

Passivity Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #7

I was jealous of Tony's admiration for Charley Harling. Because he was always first in his classes at school, and could mend the water-pipes or the doorbell and take the clock to pieces, she seemed to think him a sort of prince. Nothing that Charley wanted was too much trouble for her. She loved to put up lunches for him when he went hunting, to mend his ball-gloves and sew buttons on his shooting-coat, baked the kind of nut-cake he liked, and fed his setter dog when he was away on trips with his father. Ántonia had made herself cloth working-slippers out of Mr. Harling's old coats, and in these she went padding about after Charley, fairly panting with eagerness to please him. (2.3.5)

Jim seems to recognize in others the positive masculine traits he lacks himself – but his own shortcomings seem only to be an issue when it comes to Ántonia. That he's not worried about being typically "male" for himself – he only wants to please Ántonia.

Quote #8

Her voice had a peculiarly engaging quality; it was deep, a little husky, and one always heard the breath vibrating behind it. Everything she said seemed to come right out of her heart. (2.6.7)

Ántonia's character possesses all the vitality and energy that seems to be missing in Jim's more passive character. Perhaps this has something to do with the reason he is so drawn to her? Jim seems to admire in others what he lacks in himself. (A similar thing happens with Otto Fuchs earlier in the novel.)

Quote #9

"Baptists don't believe in christening babies, do they, Jim?"

The curtain rose on the bedroom scene. By this time there wasn't a nerve in me that hadn't been twisted. Nanine alone could have made me cry. I loved Nanine tenderly; and Gaston, how one clung to that good fellow! The New Year's presents were not too much; nothing could be too much now. I wept unrestrainedly. Even the handkerchief in my breast-pocket, worn for elegance and not at all for use, was wet through by the time that moribund woman sank for the last time into the arms of her lover. (3.3.10)

It's fitting that Jim is so enamored of the theatre. Because of his passive character, he enjoys being able to watch a drama unfold where the characters take action.

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