Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Antonia - Three Life Lessons

I finished reading this wonderful novel and keep thinking about it. Antonia (pronounced AntowNEEa) was an immigrant from Bohemia who's family settled in Nebraska. Willa Cather portrays the hardships of homesteading with incredible clarity... sod houses, extreme cold, trying to live off of rotten potatoes, melons, or whatever you could find to eat. The first lesson of this book is to realize the importance of hard work, survival, as well as neighborly charity. No big government programs here! In fact many Americans today look like incredible babies compared to these first settlers. The second lesson is that ideal love doesn't always work out, but that's okay. I don't want to spoil anything so I won't go any further on that. The third lesson is a little disappointing. At the beginning of the book faith plays a very important role. But as the story moves on the role of faith fades into the background. I wonder if that is a reflection of Cather's personal journey? I wonder if that reflects the waning of faith in a culture that learns how to tame the wild. At first we look to God in all the desperation of survival. But as civilization gets a grip and life becomes a little easier do people find less need of God? Overall this is a great book... Highly recommended.