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Symbols in My Ántonia

Symbols Examples in My Ántonia:

Introduction

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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.

"shocking wheat..."   (Book IV - Chapter IV)

“Shocking wheat” is the act of harvesting and bundling wheat. Antonia has continued living in Black Hawk and working the land, saying that she is happier there than in the city. Jim plans to attend law school in the city, but throughout his education his thoughts have always wandered to his childhood adventures with Antonia. This conversation suggests a symbolic connection between Antonia and the land. She feels her father’s spirit and likes the familiarity of everything. While Jim and the others have branched out into the world, Antonia has stayed behind to continue nurturing the rocks and trees that raised the Black Hawk kids. She has also brought a daughter into the world, continuing the cycle of life in the country.

"kolaches,..."   (Book V - Chapter I)

“Kolaches” are a type of European sweet bread. They are made out of pockets of dough filled with fruits, jams, or nuts. The kolaches and the fact that Antonia primarily speaks Bohemian with her children indicate that she has blended the culture of her early childhood with frontier life. She lives a simple, hard life, but she is still full of vitality and has shared the joys of her childhood with her own children by telling them about her adventures with Jim and the rest of the Black Hawk kids. Jim stayed away for twenty years because he was afraid of seeing Antonia broken down by the years, but his visit shows how she has thrived as a farmer and mother.

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