October 2011 Archives

My Antonia Questions Book IV, V and Appendices

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Ch. 1-4 Book IV
1) What were Tiny's and Lena's achievements? How did they surpass the expectations of the Black Hawk residents? How did Tiny, in particular, challenge gender roles?
2) What is the irony of Tiny and Lena's success and Ántonia's perceived failure? Why couldn't Jim "forgive" her?
3) How do you interpret what happened to Ántonia? Why did she isolate herself and work in the fields when she came back?
4) What is the significance of Jim's statement that "the idea of you is a part of my mind; you influence my likes and dislikes, all of my tastes" (240, Ch. IV)?

Ch. 1-3 Book V
5) Why was Jim afraid to visit Ántonia after the years had gone by? Think back to the Introduction that described his adult life. What "illusions" do you think he has "parted with" in his own life?
6) What impressed him when he finally visited Ántonia? What did he mean that she "had not lost the fire of life"?
7) How is the apple orchard symbolic of Ántonia's life?
8) Why does Jim consider Ántonia a "rich mine of life, like the founders of early races" (261, Ch. 1)
9) What is the significance of the plans Jim makes with Ántonia's husband and boys? What does he mean that this visit gave him a "sense of coming home to myself" and he learned "what a little circle man's experience is" (273 Ch.III)?

Appendices
1) The letter was written by the real woman whom Willa Cather based the novel on. What insight does Anna Pavelka's letter shed on the fictional Ántonia and the novel as a whole?

My Antonia Questions for Monday

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Ch. 7-15 (Book II)
1. What adjectives does Jim use to describe the Black piano player? What is the significance of the language he uses?
2. Why would it be wrong for the girls to dance with the salesmen at the hotel? With the town men at the dance tent? What moral and religious assumptions are circulating regarding the dances and dancers?
3. What is Jim's opinion of the town girls? How does he contrast them with the country girls? Physically? Mentally? Emotionally?
4. Why wouldn't the "American farmers" let their daughters work? What were the perceived social class differences?
5. How did the Americans view the immigrants? Why wouldn't the Black Hawk boys date the immigrant girls? Why were the immigrant girls considered a "menace to the social order"?
6. How does Jim feel about the "American" boys? Why does he consider himself different?
7. Why doesn't Mrs. Harling want Ántonia to work for Wick Cutter? What were the characteristics that make him "old maidish" and "licentious"?
8. Why was Jim considered "queer" for his interest in Tony, Lena and the Mary's?
9. What was Jim's opinion of the Black Hawk townspeople in Ch. 12? Why did he refuse to join the Owl Club?
10. What is Jim's relationship with Tony in Ch. 12?
11. What does Ántonia reveal about her parents' early relationship in Ch. 14? How is it similar to her own circumstances?
12. What is the significance of the image of the plow in the sun to Jim and the girls?
13. Why was Jim angry at Ántonia after Wick Cutter tried to choke him? Why did he refuse to let anyone see him or hear about the story? How was his experience with Cutter like a woman's? How was it different?

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