My Ántonia is the first of three novels that make up Cather's "prairie trilogy." In My Ántonia, Jim personifies the landscape to such an extent that the prairie can even be considered a character—and one with a complex personality. The prairie functions as an essential means of survival for farmers like the Burdens and the Shimerdas, because it provides food to consume and to sell. But, at times, it can also be dangerous. Jim, for example, becomes sick during the harsh winter, and one summer he is almost killed by a rattlesnake. Still, both Jim and Ántonia form a lifelong connection to the prairie, and as adults they associate it with a simpler, purer life. They are fascinated by its vivid colors, seasonal changes, and vast openness. Jim's and Ántonia's mood often depend on the "moods" of the land. During his first winter in town, for example, Jim becomes lonely and depressed. And when she tells the story of the tramp who killed himself, Ántonia is disturbed not by his suicide but by the fact that he killed himself in summertime, when everyone is supposed to be happy.
The Prairie ThemeTracker
The Prairie Quotes in My Antonia
"Why, just like this; like yourself. Why do you all the time try to be like Ambrosch?"
She put her arms under her head and lay back, looking up at the sky. "If I live here, like you, that is different. Things will be easy for you. But they will be hard for us."