Analysis Pages

Facts in My Ántonia

Facts Examples in My Ántonia:

Book I - Chapter I

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"Life of Jesse James..."   (Book I - Chapter I)

Jesse James was an American outlaw from Missouri known for bank and train robberies. The book referenced here is fictional, but something similar would have been available, typically in the form of a dime novel.

" “selah.”..."   (Book I - Chapter II)

The word “selah” has disputed meaning and appears exclusively in the biblical books of Psalms and Habakkuk in the Hebrew Bible. Many scholars believe that it is either a musical directive or a call for reflection.

"hartshorn bottle...."   (Book I - Chapter IX)

The term “hart’s horns” used to refer to a deer’s antlers. In the 19th century, the antlers were crushed up to create smelling salts and were a ubiquitous medicine. Some uses included the treatment of diarrhea, fever, sunstroke, insect bites, and snake bites. Hartshorn was also used as a source of ammonia and has been noted for its strong stench. Jim refers to that here as he compares breathing in the cold winter air to breathing in foul smelling hartshorn, which could “burn” the back of the throat.

"webbed fingers..."   (Book I - Chapter X)

Having webbed fingers, called “syndactyly,” is a physical condition typically experienced from birth. It can range from simple syndactyly, where the digits are connected by pieces of skin, to complex syndactyly, where the bones are fused. Marek often showcases his fingers around others but is typically dismissed or berated by his family for doing so.

"Holy Sacrament...."   (Book I - Chapter XV)

The Holy Sacrament is the bread and wine used in Catholic mass, which represent the body and blood of Christ respectively. The consumption of the Holy Sacrament, often called Communion, is a common practice in many different Christian denominations.

"cholera..."   (Book I - Chapter XV)

Cholera is a highly infectious disease that spreads through water and food that has been contaminated by bacteria. Prior to the discovery of antibiotics, cholera was very deadly and could greatly reduce entire populations in short amounts of time. During the 19th century, especially out on the frontier where there were fewer doctors and restricted access to medicine, cholera was a major concern.

"gaillardia..."   (Book II - Chapter XIV)

Gaillardia, common known as the “blanket flower,” is a type of plant native to the Americas. They are known for being hardy and having a long blooming season.

"sea temples at Paestum:..."   (Book III - Chapter I)

Paestum is an ancient Greek city in modern-day Italy. It is known for three well-preserved temples to the Grecian goddesses Hera and Athena. During one of Cleric’s poetic lectures about the beauty of the ancient world and poetry, Jim begins to realize he is not meant to be an academic. His thoughts range to the lands and people of his childhood, and they “fill” his head and leave no room for more academic knowledge. Even though he has left the lands of his youth, his memories continue to tether him to it, emphasizing the idea that the frontier is a living presence kept alive in the memories of those it nurtured.

"amour-propre...."   (Book III - Chapter IV)

In French, amour-propre literally translates to “self-esteem.” It is also a concept in the philosophical writings of Jean Jacques Rousseau and refers to the idea that self-esteem depends on the regard of others.

"tintype..."   (Book V - Chapter I)

A “tintype” is an early photographic process that helped popularize photography because it was cheap and quick. Antonia’s photo collection reinforces her role as a memory-keeper. She has remained in the country and become a loving mother to her children, sharing with them her memories of childhood and teaching them to cherish the frontier land as she does. Just as the land nurtured Jim and Antonia, now she has grown her own orchard and her children have their own adventures. Their experiences and lives emphasize the cyclical nature of life and the reciprocal relationship between farmers and their land.

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