Symbolism in the Novel “My Antonia” by Willa Cather

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In My Antonia by Willa Cather, there are various symbols used throughout the novel. These symbols reflect Cather’s own views as a child through her life. The symbols include Jim’s grandmother’s garden and the snake-killing incident. The garden symbolizes the freedom that children have, and it also makes Jim feel as a part of nature. The incident shows Antonia’s bravery and Jim’s realization that he has feelings for her. Work is also used as a symbol, and it shows Antonia’s determination and hard work. Cather used symbolism in every chapter to bring more meaning to the novel.

Table of Content

“My Antonia,” by Willa Cather has many symbols through out the novel. Symbolismreflects her own views as a child through her life. Some of these symbols are Jim’sgrandomother’s garden and snake-killing incident.

Jim’s grandomother’s garden made him fell as a part of nature, as human beingsoriginally were in the Garden of Eden. When he came to the garden he would alsowonder if people felt like this when they died and became a part of knowledge, goodness,sun and air. His maturity makes him feel how he really feels about Antonia. Jim wasalways afraid to tell Antonia how he felt about her. Ever since Jim laid eyes on her, heknew that she was the love of his life, but didn’t want to tell her because of the bigdifference of the social classes. Jim often wondered if Antonia could serve as amotherm friend, lover or sweetheart. In the garden Jim and Antonia would play around,work in the garden and picked potatos. The garden symbolizes the freedom that childrenWhen the sanke-incident happens Antonia brags about how brave Jim was. Antoniaexclaimed to Jim’s family, “He fight something awful! He is all over Jimmy’s boots. Iscream for him to run, but he jsut hit an hit that snake like he was crazy. (Page 33). Atthis point Jim realizes that Antonia was more that a friend but Antonia sees him morelike a little brother especially since he is four years younger than him.

Work can also be another symbol in the term that Antonia worked hard in thefarm. “Her neck came up strongly out of her shoulders, like the hole of a tree out of theturf” Cather emphasizes. Antonia goal was to prove her mother that she can work as wellas Ambrosch leads her to compete with the men plowing and to pick up masculine traitsthat overshadow her feminity. Antonia would always work hard in the fields and peopleknew she was a hard worker. This symbol of work showes how she does not give up evenThrough out the novel symbolism is often used in every chapter. Willa Catheroften used symbolism portaining to Jim and Antonia. Willa Cather thought that usingsymbolism would bring more meaning to the novel.


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Symbolism in the Novel “My Antonia” by Willa Cather. (2019, Apr 03). Retrieved from

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