This sample paper on My Antonia Essay Topics offers a framework of relevant facts based on recent research in the field. Read the introductory part, body, and conclusion of the paper below.
In Willa Cather’s novel, My Antonia, there is a distinct difference in the roles of women. One sees the female characters taking on not so feminine roles by working in the fields or playing in the dust and dirt with boys. We also get to see a great independence for women as they get jobs and raise families.
Willa Cather could very well have been a blossoming feminist in her time since she crumbled the stereotypes of women and boldly placed them in positions of power.
She made not only the main female character of this book, Antonia, but all of the women reject society rules and have the confidence to make their own decisions about what to do with their lives. Willa Cather’s novel really escapes from the societal norm of women at the time and replaces it with female characters unbound by stereotypes.
Running a business, unheard of for women at that time, yet Cather has one of her characters, Lena Lingard, practice dress making. She eventually gets a job and starts selling what she makes. This eventually leads to her running her own store and having a well-respected place in society.
It is worth noticing that Cather doesn’t put her in the position of struggling to keep her business going but as being successful and happy.
“It seemed to me wonderful that she should have got on so well in the world” (Cather, 171). Cather also included several other characters that embodied a strong independent woman like Mrs. Gardener. “It was Mrs. Gardener who ran the business and looked after everything. Her husband stood at the desk and welcomed incoming travelers. He was a popular fellow, but no manager”.
With Mrs. Gardener she had her running the business and the husband doing all the petty work, effectively switching gender roles. Lastly she writes a couple pages on what happened with Tiny Soderball, who went up north during the gold rush and ran a hotel-like business from there. “There she sometimes fed a hundred and fifty people a day. Miners came in on snowshoes from their placer claims 20 miles away to by fresh bread from her, and paid for it in gold”. We also see a swap in gender roles here where all of these men are depending on a woman instead of the other way around.
Cather really breaks women free of stereotypical bonds and has them makes their own independent choices. “Miss Cather, I think, in this book has taken herself out of the rank of provincial writers and given us something we can fairly class with modern literary feminism”. Country women in the novel were not confined to staying inside and caring for the children while making dinner. Antonia is the perfect example of this because, early on, we see that she is a lively young girl whose youth is not yet affected by the social norms of that time.
Antonia had opinions about everything, and she was soon able to make them known”. When her father died she had to take up labor in the fields to help her family survive. She didn’t complain about it like Ambrosch did, it seemed very much like Ambrosch did very little work and just spent his time bossing her around. “Ambrousch hired his sister out like a man, and she went from farm to farm, binding sheaves or working with the threshers. ” Throughout the novel, Antonia was probably the one who did the most work out of anyone.
In the end when Jim returns to meet her we find out that she is still working even after she has born numerous children. Though Antonia seems old and worn she’s still the happy, energetic kid Jim remembers from his childhood. “Antonia had not lost the fire in her life. Her skin, so brown and hardened, had not that look of flabbiness, as if the sap beneath it had been secretly drawn away. ” Cather had her be the vision of a woman who could still be proud even after a life of hardship. Cather’s use of the daughters being the main lifeline for families switches the roles between them and the sons… ”
Bloom brings up a very good point in that the families often relied on their daughters for support rather than their sons. Frances was the oldest daughter of the Harlings. “Frances, was a very important person in our world. She was her father’s chief clerk, and virtually managed his Black Hawk office during his frequent absences”. Antonia was the Shimerda’s communicator for the outside world and she also worked in the fields to support her family when her father died.
When Lena, Tiny and Antonia went to Black Hawk for work they always sent the money back to their families, keeping only enough to get by for themselves. Antonia seemed fine with this and often bragged “how much ploughing she had done that day. ” So, where were the boys while the females labored tirelessly? They were almost never out in the fields working, they were just in school. Other farmers greatly approved of women working to support their family and saw nothing unusual with women doing a “man’s job”. “The farmers liked her and were kind to her, said they would rather have her for a hand than Ambrousch”.
Women could do more than just stay inside and cook, they could do hard labor and have jobs just like any man could. Willa Cather portrayed all of her women characters as strong roles models ready to combat whatever came their way. They could run business, work on the farm and raise a family all by themselves. These women were not affected by society’s beliefs, stereotypes bounced off them as they went on their way, being just as capable as men. They were independent and could lead their own lives. “Cather’s novel helps pave the way for women equality everywhere. ”