By Ellie Steingard

My Ántonia By Willa Cather

The Nebraska prairie is a large symbol in the book. When Jim goes off to New York, he thinks of the prairie and the landscape. When he thinks of his childhood, he thinks of the prairie.

One of the things I will remember from my childhood is going out into the field and ride in the tractor or combine with my dad. Also, helping my dad irrigate the fields of corn & soybeans. The land is a symbol of my childhood. Nebraska land has been an important role all throughout my life. It is what we live off of. The weather challenges us. In the book the prairie plays a very important role and is the antagonist. They build their lives on the prairie, and it all depends upon the weather, vegetation, animal life. Although, people may call this land we live on, "prairie", but it sure is not the prairie it was. The land has been taken over for farming and industries.

In life I often take for granted all the good land we have to live off of, and live on. Reading this book I learned of all the hardships and struggles that they had, on the land that we live on today, even though the land is way different. I don't think I could have survived through all the cold winters and famine they had without all of the heaters and technology we have now, and this makes me even more thankful for what I have.

Marie Ratzlaff Prairie

I sat down in the cold dirt and looked around. The grass was swaying back and forth in the wind. Birds chirped. I have never had this feeling before. A feeling of peacefulness and as if I were one of the characters in the book, walking along in the prairie.
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In this picture, it shows the Marie Ratzlaff Prairie. The bright blue sky filled with large fluffy clouds. Rays of sunshine creeping through them. The tall golden grass protruding from the rest, with dead trees in the distance.

Quotes from My Ántonia

“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. There were none of the signs of spring for which I used to watch in Virginia, no budding woods or blooming gardens. There was only—spring itself; the throb of it, the light restlessness, the vital essence of it everywhere: in the sky, in the swift clouds, in the pale sunshine, and in the warm, high wind—rising suddenly, sinking suddenly, impulsive and playful like a big puppy that pawed you and then lay down to be petted. If I had been tossed down blindfold on that red prairie, I should have known that it was spring.”

-Willa Cather, My Antonia

We did not go to the prairie in the spring, but you could still breath in the fresh cool air. The description is still partly the same, with the swift clouds, pale sunshine, high wind very unpredictable.

“LAST summer I happened to be crossing the plains of Iowa in a season of intense heat, and it was my good fortune to have for a traveling companion James Quayle Burden—Jim Burden, as we still call him in the West. He and I are old friends—we grew up together in the same Nebraska town—and we had much to say to each other. While the train flashed through never-ending miles of ripe wheat, by country towns and bright-flowered pastures and oak groves wilting in the sun, we sat in the observation car, where the woodwork was hot to the touch and red dust lay deep over everything. The dust and heat, the burning wind, reminded us of many things. We were talking about what it is like to spend one's childhood in little towns like these, buried in wheat and corn, under stimulating extremes of climate: burning summers when the world lies green and billowy beneath a brilliant sky, when one is fairly stifled in vegetation, in the color and smell of strong weeds and heavy harvests; blustery winters with little snow, when the whole country is stripped bare and gray as sheet-iron. We agreed that no one who had not grown up in a little prairie town could know anything about it. It was a kind of freemasonry, we said.”

-Willa Cather, My Antonia

This is a very vivid description in the book, of which is actually the same as here in Nebraska today.

"I wanted to walk straight on through the red grass and over the edge of the world, which could not be very far away. The light and air abot me told me that the world ended here: only the ground and sun and sky were left, and if one went a little farther there would only be sun and sky, and one would float off into them, like the tawny hawks which sailed over our heads making slow shadows on the grass.”

-Willa Cather, My Antonia

The prairie did not continue beyond the horizon, and was not covering all of the land. For what I saw though, it was still beautiful. When I was out there, I could picture myself as Antonia in the prairie.


"My Ántonia Quotes." By Willa Cather. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.

SparkNotes. SparkNotes, n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.