Mt Antonia Essay, Research Paper
One of the most interesting characters in the book My Antonia by Willa Cather is Mr. Shimerda. Although he may not have as significant a role in the story as Jim Burden or the story s namesake Antonia, he provides us with a point of view from another stranger who is struggling to fit in in a new place. Mr. Shimerda shows us that his main concern is that his family s overall well being. He tries to provide them with the best things he possibly can, but in doing so he puts a giant strain on his own mental health.
Mr. Shimerda moved to Nebraska from Bohemia with his family in the late 19th century. In Bohemia he was a fairly wealthy and successful man.” He was a weaver by trade; and had been a skilled workman on tapestries and upholstery materials.”(p.979) Mr.Shimerda was not a poor man, However because of all the relocating he had not been working and by the time he got to Nebraska he had used most of his money and had no idea how to live in this “new world”: “He wanted us to know that they were not beggars in the old country; he made good wages, and his family were respected there. He left Bohemia with more than a thousand dollars I savings, after their passage money was paid.”(p. 979)
Many discouraging events happened to Mr. Shimerda, he was forced to leave Bohemia to come to Nebraska, and when he arrived the Language barrier became a major obstacle. It was quite a transition from his days in Bohemia where he and his family were both well known and respected. However Mr. Shimerda eventually met two Russian men, Peter and Pavel, with whom there was no language barrier. But Unfortunately Pavel became very ill and passed away. As a result of this sad event Peter decided to move away causing a huge blow to Mr. Shimerda.
It seemed as though even through these hard times Mr. Shimerda still kept a clear head about the plans he had for his farm. He stated, If they could get through until spring came they could get a cow and some chickens and plant a garden and then they would do very well. (p. 979) Compounding this problem was the issue of the house the Shimerdas were living in; the house was very run down and virtually falling apart from the description of it in the story it was probably not suitable living conditions for a family.
Mr. Shimerda was not a farmer, nor could he take the pressures of living in an agricultural setting; As a result of all of these events Mr. Shimerda decided to take his own life instead of living like a beggar.
Cather, Willa My Antonia
The Norton Anthology of American Literature 5th ED.
New York :WW Norton & Company
1998. 949 – 1083