My Antonia Trifles and a Raisin in the Sun Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Antonia: Introduction etc.

The landscape of the agrarian lifestyle in Nebraska is such that Mr. Shimerda is the least suited for this type of life. He has the soul of an artist and so longs for a more refined world in which to express himself. He is a man who needs to live among people with ideas who express those concepts in conversation, which is not the world he finds in Nebraska. Indeed, he is like a man sent to this part of the world as a punishment. He admits that at times life on the farm has made him "crazy with lonesomeness" (367). He is refined in a world that does not recognize that refinement as anything but a weakness. This sense of being out of place contributes to his death.

The relationship between Antonia and Jim in the section "The Shimerdas" is an antagonistic on her part because of the skirmish Jim has with Ambrosch. Antonia has a very strong sense of family, and the fight with Ambrosch colors her perception of Jim and makes her highly protective of her family and critical of any outsider that might challenge the family. Antonia had been friendly before, but now she says, "I never like you no more, Jake and Jim Burden" (130). This incident has far-reaching effects, and those effects are evident in Antonia's change of attitude from the first. Her relationship with Jim is strained after this incident.

3. Jim has a particular view of the land in the first section of the novel. At first the expanse is just land, "not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made" (7). Jim begins to differentiate between the expanse of land and broken land, or land being tilled. When he is with Antonia, he takes a different view of the whole state: "The great land had never looked to me so big and free" (48). Jim's view of the land seems to depend on his view of the people he is with at any given time, but overall he becomes more tied to the land as he works it.

4. Jim states at one point, "The country girls were considered a menace to the social order" (201). These girls were distractions for the boys of Black Hawk, expected and expecting to marry Black Hawk girls. However, these country girls were too beautiful and so caused the Black Hawk boys to lose focus and turn their attention way from the girls the community expected them to marry, the country girls thus upset the social order. These girls became the subject of scandalous stories, and so they were criticized in the community for being too alluring and too disruptive.

5. Antonia gains a good deal from her service in the Harling home, and the children gain much from her. Antonia is admitted by the Harlings, and Mrs. Harling wants to help shape the girl. Antonia first gets a second family from the experience. Antonia also learns much about music from Mrs. Harling. The children like Antonia and are contented by her presence and her help in the home. At this stage, Antonia is also still friendly with Jim, and the entire group seems to have achieved a harmony by being together.

6. At the end of the section called "The Hired Girls," Jim says he is proud of Antonia and she is proud of him: "I was so proud of her that I carried my head high" (225). The immediate reason for this is because she is proud of him, and he knows this as she tells him not to hang around Lena too much and shows that she has regard for him after all. He is proud of her because she has a true heart and is still his Antonia.

My Antonia: Part III etc.

1. In college, Jim reads from Virgil's Georgics the section "Virgil's line "Optima dies . . . prima fugit." This passage comes to mean something to Jim about his growing up in Nebraska. The passage is described as a "melancholy reflection that, in the lives of mortals, the best days are the first to flee" (263). Cleric explains how this connects to an individual's patria, and for Jim, Nebraska is his patria. He is reminded of this fact even more when Lena Lingard shows up that night, and the loss of youth and the loss of Nebraska, at least for a time, affects the young man at this time.

2. The land functions as both a living character in the novel and as a symbol. It always represents more life than simply the life on the land. It represents home in many forms, the home where the family resides, the home of the country, the link between the individual and his or her background, memories, livelihood, and so on. The land is what the people of Nebraska came to that region for, so it is also the rationale for their existence as well as the source of their sustenance. The land forms them and then becomes part of them, tying the forever to home even as it may actually be different land in a different place, showing that the idea of land is as powerful as the land itself.

3. The dreams Jim has of Lena Lingard are more sensual and in some ways dangerous, while the dreams he has of Antonia are more mundane. He reports on one dream in which Lena appears in a field, barefoot, and offers to kiss him. He states that he "used to wish I could have this flattering dream about Antonia, but I never did" (226). Antonia is the woman he really loves, but he does not see her in the same sensual and alluring light that he sees Lena, even though he wishes he could. His regard for Antonia prevents him from having the same sort of dream about her.

4. As far as the reader can discern, is more tied to the past than Antonia, and this is emphasized because the novel is made up of Jim's memories, told from his point-of-view. For Jim, memories are more real at times than reality. Jim often indulges in painful memories of the past in order to exorcise them, to escape from the pain by remembering it. Antonia always seems to be living in the moment or to have a more future orientation as she looks to what comes next while Jim goes over what has already occurred.

5. Jim sees Antonia as more successful than he. She is more mature in many ways and achieves a marriage and children while he still tries to find himself. When he returns to her, he recognizes the differences between them, saying of her, "She was a battered woman now, not a lovely girl; but she still had that something which fires the imagination, could still stop one's breath for a movement by a look or gesture that somehow revealed the meaning in common things" (261). He knows that she has this special meaning for him and also recognizes that she has greater understanding and compassion than he.


1. The title of this play is intended to be ironic, for the subject matter and the women involves are not trifles at all, though the men treat the women as if they are and clearly treat what they see as "women's work" as mere trifles. This titular irony helps illuminate the theme and add to the sense that the men fail to see the truth while the women know it instinctively.

2. The Sheriff and the County Attorney are looking for evidence about the killing of Mr. Wright, evidence they believe will be used to prosecute Mrs. Wright for murder and explain why she killed her husband. These two males are very puzzled by the death they are investigating and by the role of Mrs. Wright, but they believe fully that they will be able to discern the truth. On the other hand, they see the women -- Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale -- as doing no more than pawing through the "trifles" of Mrs. Wrights' life. Mr. Hale is present as a witness, for he found the body on the day of the murder. Mrs. Peters is the wife of the sheriff, and she and Mrs. Hale have come along to collect some things for Mrs. Wright, who is in jail.

The men and women look through the house, but the women remain largely in the kitchen, while the men search elsewhere for the evidence they seek. The women know that the kitchen was the wife's domain, and they see their evidence in different places then the men search. The men are looking for solid evidence, tangible things that they can use to understand the people in the house, evidence like letters or pictures or weapons. The women see less tangible evidence as objects tell them about the psychology of the woman and about…

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