Essay The Trials and Tribulations of Antonia

1737 Words 7 Pages
Why do many immigrants make the long and usually costly move to America? Is it the largely idolized notion that Americans are wealthier with better opportunities? Moreover, is the price some pay worth the risk? In Willa Cather’s My Ántonia, Ántonia faces struggles as a young child, including language barriers, poverty, harsh living conditions, and her beloved father’s death. However, as Ántonia grows into a woman, she must face struggles of a social nature, such as the division of social and economic classes, as well as social opprobrium. While immigration to America may open many doors for immigrants, it is equally fraught with obstacles. Likewise, Ántonia must face many adversities after her emigration from Bohemia to Nebraska, which …show more content…
It is at this time, twenty years later, that Jim and Antonia meet again, and though she is worn, he can still see the same eager, optimistic, and friendly girl he knew as a child, only now as a woman (Cather 262). Jim also sees a pioneer woman who has overcome the many struggles inherent to adapting to the frontier, and yet she still encompasses the Bohemian traditions she learned as a child.
Like many immigrants, Ántonia faces difficulty with the language barrier. Upon their arrival, the Shimerdas only speak a few sentences of broken English. According to Jim, “They could not speak enough English to ask for advice, or even to make their most pressing wants known” (Cather 46). In the beginning of their friendship, Antonia is unable to communicate efficiently with Jim. For example, during one of Antonia and Jim’s adventures, they come across a snake that sneaks up behind Jim. Antonia, who only speaks little English, is only able to shout at Jim in Bohemian. Although Jim kills the snake, he lashes out at Antonia for speaking Bohemian gibberish. While Ántonia’s ability to communicate effectively with Jim frustrates her, it also makes her more determined to learn English. It is this desire that pushes her to travel, by barefoot, to the Burden’s house daily for her English lessons with Jim (Gerber 11). It is through her perseverance that she is soon able to speak English better than any of the other children in Black Hawk. Unlike her parents, she secures a
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