Notes on My Antonia Themes

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My Antonia Topic Tracking: Antonia

Antonia 1: Antonia Shimerda's life is hard and difficult; her family is poor and the Shimerdas are disheartened. She must sacrifice her own happiness to help her family survive the tough seasons on the wild Nebraska prairie. Antonia willingly devotes her life to helping her family's farm succeed. She remains optimistic about her future despite many hardships. Antonia knows that she is destined for a life greater than the dreary life she leads.

Antonia 2: Antonia indeed has had a hard life, but the harsh conditions have made her experience more than other girls her age. She has left a country where her family had been respected and successful, for a new place unfamiliar to her. The Shimerdas have had a streak of bad luck from the moment they arrived in America. Antonia continues to hold on to the Bohemian traditions she learned from her father. Her family brings tokens of their country, but her other family members are quick to integrate modern American ways with their own.

Antonia 3: Antonia speaks about how much her father yearns for their native country. She sees the change in her father, and attributes the change to the move. Antonia knows that her father is homesick for the old country. It was her mother who wanted to move, so that Ambrosch could have the chance to become a wealthy farmer. Mrs. Shimerda cares only for her eldest son. Antonia's worries about her father foreshadow Mr. Shimerda's death. His death signifies the difference between the two of them. Antonia and her father are both homesick, but only Antonia is able to survive the hard prairie conditions. Mr. Shimerda, the gifted, intelligent man that he is, cannot live to fulfill his destiny.

Antonia 4: Mrs. Burden, with regret, says that Mr. Shimerda has left Antonia alone and alienated in a hard world with his suicide. Antonia must face yet another terrible heartache and struggle, but Mrs. Burden's words ring true. Antonia does not love the rest of her family the way she loved her father. Her life is full of disappointment and frustration.

Antonia 5: Jim asks Antonia to attend school with him, but Antonia cannot make the time to go. She has to help thresh wheat crops for her family. Antonia boasts that she can handle men's work. Jim notices that Antonia still wishes she could go to school, because she wants to be as intelligent and educated as her father had been. Antonia must sacrifice the opportunity to become educated to help her family's farm survive.

Antonia 6: Antonia is realistic in her vision of the future. Her ultimate dream of owning her own farm and raising a family is simple. Antonia enjoys the country immensely. Her love and understanding of the country connects her to the land and foreshadows her future. She admits "things will be hard" for her family, but her own happiness is not completely sacrificed.

Antonia 7: Mrs. Burden, Frances, and Mrs. Harling all agree that Antonia can be taught new ways, and recapture the old values her father had instilled in her. Mrs. Burden repeats that Antonia would have turned out differently, had her father lived. Their words show how much Antonia has given up for her family. Later, an adult Antonia admits to herself that her time spent with the Harlings' taught her ways that reformed her from the tough-talking, impetuous girl she once was.

Antonia 8: Jim and the hired girls' picnic remind all of them of the hard lives they spent on the farm. Memories of Mr. Shimerda and their country make Antonia cry, wishing that someday, in some way, she can be with her father and their country. Antonia has never forgetten her roots, despite the many changes in her life brought on by her family's move to America.

Antonia 9: Antonia vows not to settle for anything until she reaches her goal of motherhood. She holds on to her vision of success, unlike Tiny Soderball, who is satisfied with her wealth but not truly happy. Antonia knows that she will achieve her destiny, and she will not let anything get in her way. The hard life she has led has taught her to never give up what she wants most.

Antonia 10: Antonia does not feel ashamed or humiliated by the baby she bore out of wedlock; she is proud of her baby. As Mrs. Steavens tells Jim, Antonia has loved that baby since the moment it was born. Antonia's baby signifies that she is on her way to achieving her destiny. Antonia's pride in her baby shows that she is not like other town girls; her dignity is not class-dependent or socially driven.

Antonia 11: Antonia knows that she was meant for a life in the country. Her dream may not be as public as Tiny's or Lena's, but her dream is simple, and enough to satisfy her needs and wants. All Antonia desires is a warm and happy farm in the country with animals and people. She knows in her heart what she wants, from her admittance that she is a "country girl," and she is determined to get it. Antonia is unlike rich and snobby town girls who crave money and status.

Antonia 12: Again, Antonia knows her destiny: she knows that she was borne into this world to create a healthy, happy community where all can learn from each other and be proud of each other. The birth of her baby shows that she is heading for her destiny.

Antonia 13: The Cuzaks' farm is everything Antonia dreamed of and wanted. Antonia glows with happiness and content as her children, animals, and trees surround her. She always felt she belonged to the country.

Antonia 14: Jim fully recognizes Antonia's destiny: to raise a healthy brood of children and farm successful orchards. In creating a farm that is home to many healthy and happy children and plentiful orchards and crops, Antonia provides a secure community for the future.

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