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Literary Devices in My Ántonia

The Introduction and the Novel’s Perspective: The introduction sets up a frame story for the novel and informs readers that the story is a retrospective written by Jim, chronicling his life and relationship with Antonia. It features a conversation between Jim and an unnamed woman he knew as a child as they reflect on their youth in the West. The rest of the novel is presented as a manuscript written by Jim based on these reflections, but the introduction is narrated by the unnamed woman, who is most likely a fictitious stand-in for Cather. The frame story serves to centralize Antonia as both a character and a symbol by making explicit her role as the inspiration for the story. The narrator from the introduction and Jim both view Antonia as representative of their childhood adventures and the spirit of the West. She is a figure that they look back on with fondness on both a personal level and a nostalgic one. By providing a frame of reference for Jim’s life and motivation for telling this story, Cather allows readers to gain a greater understanding of the narrative voice throughout the rest of the novel and helps contextualize Antonia’s importance to Jim’s development.

Literary Devices Examples in My Ántonia:


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" More than any other person we remembered, this girl seemed to mean to us the country, the conditions, the whole adventure of our childhood...."   (Introduction)

Antonia’s introduction establishes her as less of a person and more of an idea or concept. Rather than an individual, Antonia represents the frontier itself through all of the memories and people she came into contact with. This introductory statement foreshadows the events of Jim’s story and the importance of Antonia to his development and life. She is his inspiration for writing this story, and she represents more than just a childhood friendship to Jim. Instead, she embodies his boundless passion for the West that he has made a career out of exploring and developing.

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