My Antonia 2

My Antonia – The American Dream- Essay, Research Paper

My Antonia – The American Dream-

In the novel, My Antonia, by Willa Cather, everyone seems to

be trying to pursue the American Dream. While they all have different

ideas of just exactly what the American Dream is, they all know

precisely what they want. For some, the American Dream sounds so

enticing that they have traveled across the world to achieve their

goal. They work hard to fit in and succeed, but, as in the case of Mr.

Shimerda, are not always successful.

One girl who was chasing the American Dream was Lena Lingard,

a small farm girl from a poverty-stricken family. Lena had one thing

on her mind: money. To her the American Dream was wealth. She wanted

freedom from worry about where her next meal would come from, or how

she would pay for a new dress. Lena began her journey to wealth by

becoming one of the many hired girls in the town of Black Hawk. There

she was apprentice to a dressmaker and before long began to show great

potential. She soon began making money with her newfound talent, and

used this money not to help herself, but to benefit her family. Lena

spent her free time buying clothes for them, and paid some of their

bills. She also went to many dances over the summer months. With all

of her beautiful dresses, many of the young men began to notice her as

they never had before. Soon Lena began to get a reputation that many

hired girls got, that of a brazen hussy. Everyone thought that she

would wind up marrying the wrong man and ruin her life, but Lena had

different plans. She did not listen to anything that they said about

her. As soon as she could, she got her own dress shop in Lincoln and

thrived with it. After a while she moved to San Francisco and did

even better. She did not let the stereotype of the hired girls get in

her way of the American Dream. She was determined to reach her goal

and with all of her hard work she did just that.

Some families traveled a great many miles to try to win the

American Dream. The Shimerdas came all the way from Bohemia and

gambled everything they had to make it in America. Antonia, the oldest

daughter, knew that to succeed in raising her very own family she

needed to learn the customs of this new country. With this in mind,

she asked for the help of Jim Burden, her closest neighbor. Every day

she learned a little bit more from him. He taught her farming methods

and other practices of farm life. As she picked up the language, she

began to do very well in her new surroundings. She helped out with all

of the farm work and did an excellent job. She worked in Black Hawk

for a respectable family that taught her everything she needed to know

about raising a good family. Antonia knew in her heart what a good

mother she would be and could not wait to be married. When she thought

that she had finally found a good husband, he left her at the altar

with a baby to care for, but this did not keep her down for long. She

found another man that suited her as a husband and together they had

nine children, all well behaved. Antonia’s American Dream of having

her own beautiful family had finally come true.

While Antonia was eager to be Americanized, her father was a

little bit wary of the idea. At first he was open minded about

starting a new life in America, but soon he grew homesick and tired of

farming. All that was familiar to him was left back in Bohemia. He

did not have one thing in America that pleased him as much as things

he had back home. He was lonesome and miserable most of the time, but

tried to keep it to himself so that the rest of his family would think

that everything was fine. It all just kept building up inside of him

and one day the burden got to be too much to carry. Mr. Shimerda shot

himself to end the pain of not being able to be close to the things he

loved. He did not want to Americanize. He wanted to be back in his

homeland again with his own people.

People will do anything to fulfill their dreams. They will

travel great distances or change their whole lifestyles to succeed. In

any case, dreams are very important to people, whether they be the

American Dream, or a new bike.



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