1. Make connections from the book to show how the immigrants who came to America in the late 1800’s tried to keep some of their “homeland” traditions alive in their new environment. Describe, at least 3 different examples of this.
One way how the immigrants who came to America tried to keep their “homeland” traditions is when Jim and Antonia wanted to go see the new Russian’s who had lived in their town. When they visited Peter (One of the Russian’s), he wanted to keep the guests entertained, so he pulled out a harmonica and started playing it for them. Jim said that ” Peter looked about perplexity for something that would entertain us. He ran into the storeroom and brought out a gaudily painted harmonica”(pg 29) this means that back in Russia they used harmonicas as a use of entertainment which is a homeland tradition.
Another “homeland tradition” is when “Mr. Shimerda rose, crossed himself, and quietly knelt down before the tree”(pg 61) this means that the Bohemian family is very religious and the Burdens family doesn’t do that behavior. Another example of a homeland tradition is when Mr. Shimerda used to play his trombone in Russia with his friend and watch the flowers bloom which Antonia says “he used to sit there with his friend and play trombone”(pg 159) he couldn’t play his trombone anymore because he had no other friends over in America and the tradition died out since he moved to America. 2. Why did Mr. Shimerda commit suicide and how did it impact his family. Give 2 specific examples.
Mr. Shimerda committed suicide because he was feeling depressed and couldn’t handle the stress. His only friends that he made in America had died and went back to their country, which was Pavel and Peter. Peter told Mr. Shimerda that “he was unable to meet a note which fell due on the first of November”(pg 38) which means that they were in debt and couldn’t pay Wick Cutter and this lead to him leaving America. Also when “Pavel strained himself lifting timbers for a new barn, and fell over among the shavings with such a gush of blood from the lungs”(pg 38) he died shortly after this incident and wished to speak with Mr. Shimerda before he died which impacted him a lot into killing himself from the loss of his friends.
Another reason why Mr. Shimerda killed himself is because his family didn’t have a lot of food stored up for winter “the potatoes had been frozen and were rotting, in the other was a little pile of flour”(pg 52) The loss of Mr. Shimerda friends and the shortage of food eventually led him to committing suicide. 3. How does the “coming of age” experience differ for Jim and Antonia as they move from childhood to adulthood? Explain one of their “coming of age” experiences from the book.
The “coming of age” is definitely different between Jim and Antonia because they have totally different lives. Antonia has it a lot harder and she even tells this to Jim when she says “If I live here, like you, that is different. Things will be easy for you. But they will be hard for us.”(pg 96) Antonia can not have a normal child life as Jim has since she is too busy working on her farm, he asks her if she wants to join the first term of the school year but she says “I ain’t got time to learn. I can work like mans now. My mother can’t say no more how Ambrosch do all and nobody to help him”(pg 85) this shows that Jim can get a proper education by going to school but Antonia can not because of all the work that had to be done on her farm.
When Antonia is older she works for Mr. Cutter, he is a very sick man who tries to rape Antonia when his wife is not in town. He buys a Mrs. Cutter a ticket for the train sends her away and tries to engage Antonia while she is gone. He puts jewelery under Antonia bed which gives him a reason to go in her room to seduce her and tells her not invite her friends to stay with her at night. Life for Antonia is a lot harder for her than it is for Jim. 4. How does the environment of the great plains impact the development of Jim and Antonia? As Jim grows older into adulthood what does he remember of the Great Plains. Do these memories create anxiety or bring comfort to Jim? Explain
The environment of the great plains impacts Jim and Antonia in different ways. Jim feels that the environment of the great plains would be boring when he says “here was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made. No, there was nothing but land slightly undulating”(pg 9) The environment that the Great Plains impacts Antonia is negative because she tells Jim “If I live here, like you, that is different. Things will be easy for you. But they will be hard for us.”(pg 96) This means that Jim and Antonia have different ways of viewing the environment that they live in.
When Jim grows older he becomes more focussed in his studies but he still remembers the Great Plains and those memories comfort Jim. Jim says that “For the first time it occurred to me that I should be homesick for that river after I left it.” (pg 158) This means that for the first time Jim actually misses his old life on the Great Plains. 5. Compare the different immigrant groups differing values and religious beliefs to the traditional values of frontier life. Give 2-3 specific examples from the book.
When Mr. Shimerda was alive he “rose, crossed himself, and quietly knelt down before the tree”(pg 61) on Christmas. He values what he has on Christmas and he sees how the Burden’s act on Christmas so this makes him pray in front of the Christmas Tree while Jim watches him. Christmas must be very important religiously to Mr. Shimerda because the Burden’s did not kneel in front of the tree. Mr. Shimerda is Catholic while the Burdens are Protestant. When Mr. Shimerda died “It developed that Mrs. Shimerda and Ambrosch wanted the old man buried on the southwest corner of their own land.”(pg 78) This was a custom in Bohemia and to the neighbors around them it looked bad. These are the different beliefs that the Shimerda’s had to the traditional ways of frontier life. 6. What symbols does Cather use to represent the key ideas in her novel? (hint: the plow, sunsets, the landscape, sunflowers)
The landscape is used to represent a key idea of the novel because it represents how Jim feels about life on the Great Plains. Jim feels at first “For more than anything else I felt motion in the landscape; in the fresh, easy blowing morning wind, and in he earth itself”(pg 15) This means that the landscape made Jim feel good and in a mellow mood. It did not put him in negative feeling but made him feel fresh and happy. Cather uses flowers to represent home sickness for Antonia when she tells Jim “It makes me homesick, Jimmy, this flower, this smell,”(pg 159) When Antonia smells this flower it makes her think of her country, this same feeling happens to Jim when he moves from the Great Plains to the city he still misses the old life he had as a child.