Analysis of Theme in Willa Cather's a Lost Lady Essay

1538 Words Nov 15th, 2012 7 Pages
Sarah Snow
Paper 3
Writing in the Discipline of English
October 10, 2012 Central Themes in A Lost Lady * In Willa Cather’s A Lost Lady (1923), the author tells a story of a boy named Neil who’s growth into manhood is molded by the Forresters; the Captain who represented the pioneer spirit of the old west in the United States, and the beautiful Marian whom he idolized to such an extent that her moral downfall initiated his loss of innocence. As he grows up, his family, friends, and his home of Sweet Water change. Where the Forresters were once the pillars of grandeur and dignity, they fall into poverty and sickness. The Captain’s passing signifies the end of a time when those who shaped the country prospered in its unsoiled
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He enjoys when people admire his wife, as if she is an object of adoration rather than affection. The first time we see Marian; she is arranging roses in a decorative bowl. This foreshadows the connection between Marian and the roses, as if to say she the visage of natural beauty, but dangerous to get close to. Neil cuts wild roses to surprise her, a symbol of youthful love. Yet as every rose has its thorn, he catches her with Frank Ellinger, and discards them in the mud; a display of rage at her infidelity. He feels that "It was not a moral scruple she had outraged, but an aesthetic ideal" (72). Neil's image of Marian as the perfect woman has been shattered. The thorns of her adulterous conduct have pricked his heart. Ivy Peters is a direct contrast to the Captain. From the beginning, Ivy is rude, selfish, and vile. He holds no respect for the Captain’s land, or the creatures that dwell there. Ivy demonstrated early on his hatred for nature and the joy he gets from destruction.

* “He held the woodpecker’s head in a vice made of his thumb and forefinger, enclosing its pants body with his palm. Quick as a flash, as if it were a practiced trick, with one of those tiny blades he slit both eyes that glared in the bird’s stupid little head, and instantly released it” 17). This violence, along with the rumor of him killing the neighborhood dogs, foreshadows the kind of man Ivy becomes. Eventually, he buys the land from
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