The Trials and Tribulations of Antonia Essay

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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…
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. Perhaps the greatest difficulty for immigrants adapting to life in a new country is 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 scream at Jim in Bohemian. Although Jim is able to kill the snake, he lashes out at Antonia for speaking Bohemian gibberish. While this frustrates Antonia, it also makes her more determined to learn English. For instance, Antonia illustrates her desire to learn English as she makes daily trips, traveling by barefoot, to the Burden’s home to acquire new English phrases (Gerber 11). Because the Shimerdas do not speak English, they fall easy prey to those willing to take advantage of them. For example, “The Shimerdas struggle in their new

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