Lie and Lay • To lay is to place something or put something down, and it must be followed by a noun or pronoun, a thing; to lie is to recline. A lie is an untruth, and to lie also means "to tell an untruth." Examples: Lay that package on the mantel, will you please? Bridgette would like to lie in the hammock near the pool. Sometimes its tempting to lie when youre in trouble, but a lie only makes things worse. (Hint: Lay sounds like place; lie sounds like recline. But be careful: lay is also the past tense of the verb to lie: Jay lay on the couch all day yesterday.)
AGENDA• Discussion: My Antonia Book II 1-8 • Style • Themes • Questions • QHQs
Style: Consider Cather’s ideas in "The NovelDemeuble." Has she taken her own advice inwriting My Antonia?Cathers superb prose style is disarmingly clear andsimple, relying on a straightforward narration offacts. Yet it is also subtle, using carefully selectedimages to create a rich portrayal of the prairieenvironment.
• I found myself wondering why this section was not as riveting as the others had been for me. I blamed my frame of mind while I was reading, but I think that may not be entirely the case. In the light of Willa Cather’s manifesto about throwing everything unnecessary out, why did she include this domestic, slower paced, arguably (don’t kill me) boring section?
Style: Imagery and Symbols Cathers sparse but allusive style relies on the quality and depth of her images. She consciously uses the land, its colors, seasons, and changes to suggest emotions and moods. Summer stands for life (Ántonia can’t imagine who would want to die during the summer) Winter stands for death (Mr. Shimerda commits suicide during the winter).
Animals are used as symbols of the struggle forsurvival experienced by the Shimerdas during theirfirst winter. The essential grotesque image of thecost of this struggle is that of Mr. Shimerda’s corpsefrozen in his blood His coat and neck cloth and boots are removed and carefully laid by for the survivors.What other images come to mind?
Style: Realism Jim Burden gives voice to a romanticism, or overly sentimental or positive outlook, that seems to be close to. The homesteading German, Danish, Bohemian, and Scandinavian settlers were the embodiment of a cultural tradition she cherished. However, the novel is saved from sentimentality by the evocative depiction of the harsh realities of pioneer and immigrant life and the complexity of the characters, who are rarely, if ever, only sympathetic or only despicable. British modernist E.M. Forster coined the phrase “round” to describe these complex characters.
Consider examples of the “complexity” of Cather’scharacters.• In Forster‟s lecture series Aspects of the Novel, he describes flat and round characters: “The really flat character can be expressed in one sentence such as „I will never desert Mr. Micawber.‟ There is Mrs. Micawber — she says she won‟t desert Mr. Micawber; she doesn‟t, and there she is. These characters are easily recognised when first introduced and easily remembered afterwards, and their memorability appeals to our yearning for permanence.”
“A round character by contrast has furtherdimensions to their personality, which arerevealed as events demand them. A flatcharacter never surprises us with theirbehaviour, but a round character may wellsurprise us with these unsuspected aspects oftheir nature; and the test of a round character iswhether it is capable of surprising in aconvincing way. Even if events never requirethese characters to extend themselves, theynevertheless have the capacity.”
Theme: Change andTransformation• What are the contrasts that are being developed between the characters in this section?
Questions• What is the importance of independent women in this section, and why has Cather chosen to develop these characters here?• Can we connect Mina Loy to this movement of women?
Q: To Willa Cather what is being “mannish,” or “lady-like?” Whatgender roles are expected of females growing up?Q: What is the relationship between Peter and Pavel?Q: What is the purpose of including Samson’s *d Arnault] story?Q: How much of the narrator’s opinions are Cather’s own? How muchare used to point out social issues?What does it take for a woman to gain in respect in Jim’s society?Q: How does Willa Cather describe the gender roles of a male?Q: What was the point of the story of the transient’s suicide inchapter 6?Q: What was the importance of the dead man’s request for alcoholand the poem in his pocket? Do either of those points allow forcomparisons to Mr. Shimerda? QHQ DISCUSSION
HOMEWORK• Read My Antonia (1918) Book II Chapters 9-15 and Book III• Chapters 1-4Post #7: Answer one of the following prompts: 1. Discuss the differences Jim sees between the country girls and the town girls. 2. Explain the importance of the dance pavilion to both Jim and Antonia. 3. Explain why Willa Cather has chosen to devote one of the books of her novel to Lena Lingard. 4. Discuss the importance of the Jim Burden leaving Black Hawk for college life. 5. Write your own QHQ