Stereotypes In My Antonia

904 Words4 Pages
Cather’s work, My Antonia, is a memoir told from Jim Burden’s perspective, as he recollects his youth moving from Virginia to life on the plains of Black Hawk, Nebraska. Upon moving in with his grandparents, Jim begins to admire Antonia Shimerda, a Bohemian immigrant who moved to Black Hawk alongside the rest of her family, the Shimerdas. As Jim spends more time in Black Hawk, he bears witness to the many hardships which the Shimerdas faced, such as their limited proficiency with English, their horrible financial situation, and the death of the father, Mr. Shimerda. Later in the novel, Jim moves into town to further his education, while Antonia moves into town to find work. In town, Jim finds more hard-working immigrants, known as the “Hired…show more content…
Aside from the financial struggles, the Shimerdas overcame the misery which winter presents, as starvation and hypothermia were difficult to overcome in the Shimerdas’ poorly insulated house containing a rotting food supply. This proves that immigrants were perseverant, contrary to popular stereotypes of immigrants. Moreover, Antonia began working in her family’s fields at a young age, to help her family gain economic security. Although initially reluctant, Antonia’s willingness to forfeit her education for the physiological needs of her family provides insight regarding the work ethic and determination of immigrants. Antonia’s arduous work on her family’s field contradicts Riis’ nativist claim that immigrants were “indifferent to all else but [their] pipe and [their] own enjoyment” (Riis 66). Similarly to Antonia’s experience, the Hired Girls in town also experience success due to their ardent work ethic and determination to overcome the adversity of which their Anglo-Saxon counterparts were not subject to. Upon moving into town, Jim notices various differences between the native born girls and the Hired Girls, with the immigrants completing the service tasks which the privileged sons and daughters of merchants refused to accept, thinking it was beneath them. The
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