Literary Reflections–Cather

I recently taught Willa Cather’s My Antonio, and it reminded me why I have a dog named Willa. The large scale portrayal of Western settlement in this novel was captivating, and the description in the early chapters of the hardships faced by immigrant families moving to settle a plot of land in Nebraska was astonishing. What do we do today that is on this scale of difficulty? My implication there is that, for most of us, nothing is on this same scale. And it makes me think that something is missing in not having a big national purpose. At the same time, national purpose could be said to have been behind the atrocities that accompanied western expansion too. Still, though, I find in myself the desire to do something big, and it is to that desire that My Antonia speaks. The desire to settle a new land, explore where no one has explored before. The desire to do something different than the ordinary. The desire to have a dream.

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