preview

Mr. Shimerda's Suicide in Willa Cather's My Antonia Essay

Decent Essays
Mr. Shimerda's Suicide in Willa Cather's My Antonia

My Antonia, by Willa Cather, is a novel about Jim Burden and his relationship and experiences growing up with Antonia Shimerda in Nebraska. Throughout the book Jim reflects on his memories of Nebraska and the Shimerda family, often times in a sad and depressing tone. One of the main ways Cather is able to provoke these sad emotions within the reader is through the suicide of Antonia’s father, Mr. Shimerda. His death was unexpected by everyone and it is thought that homesickness is what drove him to take his own life. Homesickness was surely felt by Mr. Shimerda, as it was by many, but it was the failure to adequately find a way to provide for his family that sent Mr. Shimerda into a
…show more content…
Certainly before he left Bohemia he believed that they had more than enough money to get by. The reality of his family’s circumstances was just beginning to show their impact. Antonia points out to Jim that Mr. Shimerda looks ill “My papa sick all the time” Tony panted as we flew. He not look good, Jim” (36). It is obvious that Mr. Shimerda was terribly stressed and was staring to show it physically. Most likely he looked ill due to not sleeping and eating. Nevertheless, Mr. Shimerda wanted desperately do the best that he could for his family. He moved his family with the hopes of finding good husbands for his daughters and wealth and land for his son. He calls onto Jim to teach Antonia to read. He does so in a very pleading, helpless way which leaves an unforgettable memory in Jim’s mind. Jim takes on the task, but unfortunately Mr. Shimerda gets little help from anyone else in the town for anything. Mr. Shimerda never really understands why he receives virtually little help from neighbors getting the farm going. He knows nothing about running the farm, and didn’t even have the appropriate tools necessary. He and his family on the other hand are very trusting and would give the shirts off their backs to anyone who needed anything from them. “There never were such a people as the Shimerdas for wanting to give away everything they had” (38). He loses more hope for help when Krajiek tells him that even going into town
Get Access