‘My Antonia’, a novel by Willa Cather 1918

Sensation, landscapes of the past, and the female Muse

Antonia is less of a character than she is a sensation or feeling. We feel her presence rather than see or understand her, and we do not interpret her character but use it to interpret other experiences and characters within the novel. This is similar to the way the landscape is described and experienced by narrator and male protagonist Jimmy. He describes “there were none of the signs of spring for which I used to watch in Virginia […] There was only – spring itself; the throb of it, the light restlessness, the vital essence of it everywhere…” (97). This emphasises that My Antonia is not about outward appearances and concrete representations, but is about feelings. These are feelings of loneliness, rootlessness, nostalgia, and fear of others, from people struggling to retain their passions and inspirations in the face of different sources of oppression and prejudice within the hostile landscape of Nebraska and surrounding towns.  Continue reading