The Classic’s Club ~ My Antonia by Willa Cather

Great Plains Trilogy #3

Jim Burden loses his parents when he is a young boy. He travels to Nebraska, by train, to live with his grandparents on their farm. The conditions on the prairie are harsh and untamed. Many of their neighbors live in sod homes. The neighbors are interesting and immigrated from a variety of countries. A Bohemian family arrive, not speaking any English. It is rough going for the Shimerda family. They live in poverty, without proper clothing and existing in a less than desirable home. Antonia is a daughter of this family. Jim and his grandparents being the closest neighbor, Jim soon meets Antonia, they become friends and he teaches her English. The work on the farm is tough, and the weather is harsh and extreme. I never liked Antonia and her family, but the author has created a strong character in Antonia. She farmed the land and took care of her family just like the men did. She persevered. Her endurance was remarkable, and she didn’t care what the neighbors thought of her doing the work of a man. She suffered through some difficult situations but always pulled through and continued on.

Jim does grow up and he goes off the college. Many years later, when Antonia is married and has children of her own, he visits Antonia.

“The eyes that peered anxiously at me were — simply Antonia’s eyes. I had seen no others like them since I looked into them last, though I had looked at so many thousands of human faces. As I confronted her, the changes grew less apparent to me, her identity stronger. She was there, in full vigor of her personality, battered but not diminished, looking at me, speaking to me in the husky, breathy voice I remembered so well.” (p. 199).

This story is a great look at life on the prairie, the harsh conditions, the well-described colorful seasons, the hopes, the joys, sorrows, grief and enduring life of these determined people.

Of the three books in this series, O Pioneers!, The Song of the Lark and My Antonio, O Pioneers! is my favorite, but I highly recommend all three books. They are so well-written!

Happy Reading!


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