My Ántonia upsets many traditional gender exceptions, but one in particular is the expectation that men be active, decisive characters. The novel's narrator and arguable protagonist, Jim Burden, is fairly passive, weak, and indecisive on several levels. When it comes to love, he seems not to know what he feels about whom, and is unwilling to act on it anyway. While the novel's title character, a woman, works out in the fields like a man, Jim studies indoors. When faced with uncomfortable situations, he tends to run away (literally or figuratively). He even lets twenty years go by while he hesitates about visiting the woman he claims he loved. Jim and his passivity work alongside the specific traits of other characters to upset gender stereotypes of all kind.
Passivity is presented as a negative character trait in My Ántonia.
Passivity is presented as a positive character trait in My Ántonia.