Comparing the Theme of Sacrifice in My Antonia and The Song of the Lark

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Theme of Sacrifice in My Antonia and The Song of the Lark

A common trait for Willa Cather's characters is that they possess a certain talent or skill. This art usually controls the lives of these characters. According to critic Maxell Geismar, Cather's heroines who possess a skill often either do not marry or marry men whom they dominate; if they do marry the marriage is without excitement because their passion is invested in their art. In a sense, Geismar accuses Cather's heroines of sacrificing their marital roles for their art (172). However, marriage is not the only aspect that raises the subject of sacrifice for Cather's protagonists - there is also the issue of family. This is because a woman artist, or any
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Yet she is still accused of sacrificing too much for her art because of her sex.

A woman of the early nineteenth century is solely regarded as a daughter, wife or mother. These roles are embedded into the lifestyles of all women, which present them with their identities. Therefore, when a girl chooses to bestow priority to her art instead of her family, it is negatively considered a sacrifice. This applies to Thea Kronberg and her relationship to her mother. Thea leaves Moonstone at the age of seventeen to study in Chicago. After much struggle, Thea realizes that the only place that she may gain success is in Germany. While in Germany Thea learns of her mother's illness, yet she chooses not to leave the country and return to her hometown because it will postpone her singing career. On the surface, this seems to be a cruel act of an egotistical woman, who would rather accomplish her desire than be with her dying mother. This same mother encourages Thea to pursue music: she provides a separate room for Thea to practice and study, allows her to associate with the Mexicans for they have great singing talent and even grants permission for Thea to study with a drunken musical genius. As a mother, Mrs. Kronberg provides much more for Thea than for any of her other children, and yet this daughter chooses not to be with her during her last days.

However, there is

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