Neighbour Rosicky, a Story of Man and the Land Essay
Neighbour Rosicky, one of Willa Cather’s stories of Nebraska, is about Mr. Rosicky’s life in the prairie of Midwestern America. He is a Czech immigrant who spends his early life in London and New York and then move to Nebraska for farming life. As a reader, because my home is in the countryside and my grandparents are farmers, I am so touched by Old Rosicky’s great affection for nature, land, and farming life. Through the old man, the harmony between land and man is reflected.
It seems to me that farming in his own land gives him a free, simple, and stable life, and the life with land is what he loves most from his childhood to the end of his life. Before reading the story, I suppose people think the framing life in the prairie is boring, unstable (since the income of farming life depends on the weather), and fixed. Besides, when I know that Rosicky is a bohemian and who originally lives a happy life in New York, I consider, with stereotype, this kind of city life suit him more.
However, to Rosicky, owing the land and farming on it is what calls freedom and steady. In his mind, working in a factory may ensure you a stable income but you get no freedom at all. When Old Rosicky thinks of that Rudolph, his eldest son, might give up farming and take a factory job, he regards it to be “the end of everything for his son”, because “to be a landless man was to be a wage-earner, a slave, all your life; to have nothing, to be nothing”(Cather 1914). That is, only when you have your own land, you are free from being ruled. Although Mr. Rosicky knows that there are hardships in farming life when the weather is not good for crops growing, he is still optimistic and sure that “everything came along right” (Cather 1919). I think it is his being hopeful and not greedy makes him a person who is able to enjoy farming life so much. Mr. Rosicky believes that as long as having the land, “what you had was your own” (Cather 1919), even though you don’t own much, “you didn’t have to choose between bosses and strikers, and go wrong either way” (Cather 1919). To Old Rosicky, farming life in the Midwest is not only free from being ruled but also free from the complication of city life.
The neighborhood in Nebraska is just fit for him, such a simple, kind and general person. Mr. Rosicky had ever lived in big cities, and his wife always describes him as a city-bread man who is not like a rough farmer that he is supposed to be. However, men in city are not gentle or polite in his mind. Instead, they are “dishonest and cruel people. ” “They were the only things in his experience he had found terrifying and horrible: the look in the eyes of a dishonest and crafty man, of a scheming and rapacious woman” (Cather 1919). This is why faming the land and live in the countryside are what he wants most.
For him, the land is also the best thing that he can leave for his sons. Mr. Rosicky expects his sons for staying and keeping working the land. Even though they might need to work hard, he doesn’t need to worry “any great unkindness for them” after he is gone. From the story, we know that Mr. Rosicky is always considerate of the people he loves, and I find that those people can be touched by him and become thoughtful and generous like him. In this way, his sons are going to be kind and simple men as their father. Simple men usually regard others as simple people like themselves.
Therefore, they might be easy to get harm when being along with someone dishonest and cruel. The life in the countryside is much easier for the Rosickies, and farming life gives Mr. Rosicky the sense of security that keeps people from the complicated society in the city. Besides to escape terrible city people, being far away from urban areas helps Mr. Rosicky to be close to the nature. He describes himself as a tree with “not many roots, but one tap-root that goes down deep” (Cather 1912). According to the story, the farm in the Midwest is where he wants to be rooted deeply.
Mr. Rosicky lived a wonderful life in New York when he was young. He earned enough money and went to an opera every weekend. However, he starts to be tired of this kind of life before long. Rosicky feels that living in the city is like living “in an unnatural world. ” Cities “built you in from the earth itself, cemented you away from any contact with the ground” (Cather 1911). How can a person like Mr. Rosicky who loves the land and nature so much endure the life without touching the true soil? Therefore, he moves to the Midwest. He admires the land so much.
He does not mind whether his land is the most fertile; instead, he is thankful that he can won the land, and that he can “see the sun rise and set and to plant things and watch them grow” (Cather 1912). He can never live without nature, even after he dies. There is a graveyard just at the edge of his land. To Old Rosicky, being buried there is like having a long and deep sleep in the arms of Mother Nature. What’s more, he won’t be away from his home, his land, and the people he loves. “It was a comfort to think that he would never have to go farther than the edge of his own hayfield. With the graveyard, he can “lie down in the long grass and see the complete arch of the sky over him …and it was so near home” (Cather 1907). In Neighbour Rosicky, I see how important and meaningful the land can be to a man. The harmonious relationship between Mr. Rosicky and nature is touching. To him, farming life gives him the freedom to control him own life and keeps him from all the negative things about the city. He cannot live without it for he always shows intense devotion to his neighborhood, the land where is (close to) the nature.