My Antonia

moves West, what significance is there in Jim Burden's moving East for schooling, marriage, a career? Why does he return to the West so often? Discuss what the West represents for Jim, and what it is that he's trying to recapture there." The West is more than a setting for My Antonia. It is almost a mystical place that draws Jim Burden back again and again. Jim is attempting to recapture his youth and his happy times with Antonia as he returns to his old home. However, Jim also has a deep love for the land and for the place where he grew up. He many have left the West to make his fortune, but he can never truly leave his past or his love of the land behind him, and that is why he continually returns home to the land and people he loves so much.

Cather's work is a true celebration of the land and the natural world, and it is clear that Jim Burden, the narrator in "My Antonia," has a deep and unshakable fondness for the land where he grew up, as this segment of the book illustrates. Jim says, "As I looked about me I felt that the grass was the country, as the water is the sea. The red of the grass made all the great prairie the color of wine-stains, or of certain seaweeds when they are first washed up. And there was so much motion in it; the whole country seemed, somehow, to be running" (Cather 15). Later he says, "When spring came, after that hard winter, one could not get enough of the nimble air. Every morning I wakened with a fresh consciousness that winter was over" (Cather 119). It is clear Jim loves his homeland dearly, and it is this continuing affection that draws him back from his life in the East. His future may be with his family and work in the East, but his past draws him back home whenever he can get there.

There are other hints that Jim finds the rolling prairie his true home, and wants to recreate the joys of his youth when he returns home. Later in the story he thinks, slept that night in the room I used to have when I was a little boy, with the summer wind blowing in at the windows, bringing the smell of the ripe fields. I lay awake and watched the moonlight shining over the barn and the stacks and the pond, and the windmill making its old dark shadow against the blue sky (Cather 318).

Jim is remembering his youth, and a part of him desperately wants time to stand still so his youth will not be so far behind him. The next time he visits his old home is twenty years later, and time has not stood still. antonia is older, and has a large brood of children. When he goes into town, there is little to remind him of the place he grew up, so he walks on the prairie to pass the time. He says, "Out there I felt at home again. Overhead the sky was that indescribable blue of autumn; bright and shadowless, hard as enamel. To the south I could see the dunshaded river bluffs that used to look so big to me, and all about stretched drying cornfields, of the pale-gold color, I remembered so well" (Cather 370). Always when he goes back out West he appreciates the beauty of the natural world around him, and it is clear this is something missing from his…