Willa Cather 's Lost Lady And My Antonia

1761 Words8 Pages
In her stories Lost Lady and My Antonia, Willa Cather explores the ‘woman problem’. She does this by exploring the lives of women through the lens of men who grew up around them. Doing this allows her to highlight how society treats women and men differently, and subtly show this distinction to readers in order to call out the patriarchal double standard that existed in her time, and continues to exist today. In the stories of Marian Forrester and Antonia Shimerida, Willa Cather highlights struggles women face when they deal with both financial and sexual ruin. Marian Forrester faces financial ruin when she and her husband find themselves deep in debt. Niel watches – and judges her – as she tries to keep herself afloat. Antonia deals with…show more content…
Now they will have to face the consequences – but Marian Forrester is also keenly aware that although both she and Captain Forrester are in this situation, they will each have to face it differently.
Antonia, on the other hand, represents sexual ruin. While Jim was living in Lincoln, his grandmother had written him that Antonia had left town to marry Larry Donovan, but he had deserted her after getting her pregnant. (Cather 144) Antonia is now left with the responsibility of carrying the child for nine months, and then raising it afterwards. Larry Donovan, on the other hand, is not held to the same standards. Thus, Antonia bears the shame associated with premarital pregnancy because she bears the physical proof of it.
Marian and Antonia have fallen to different heights. Marian has fallen financially – there is still ideally a chance for her to gain it back. Antonia, on the other hand, can never fully be free of her mistake – she will always have to care for her daughter. Thus, Antonia has further to go in her quest for redemption. The lack of obvious physical evidence of Marian’s fall makes her redemption easier to achieve.
Of course, because of their differing situations, Marian Forrester and Antonia are judged differently. Marian’s dealings with Ivy Peters are seen as disloyalty to the Captain. Before Captain Forrester dies, Marian begins investing money with Ivy Peters to try getting out of debt – Niel insists that

More about Willa Cather 's Lost Lady And My Antonia

Open Document