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Pat Swenson, CSUN - My Antonia
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Prof Pat Swenson

Campus Email: pat.swenson@csun.edu

Elements of Fiction

Literary Theory

Myth & Archetype: The Hero's Quest

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Department Information

Department of English

708 Sierra Tower
Phone: 818.677.3431

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Liberal Studies Program

EA 100
Phone: 818.677.3300

Liberal Studies Website

My Antonia by Willa Cather - Literary Discussion Guide



The Hired Girls & Lena

Who are the Hired Girls and how do the townspeople feel about them? (define any prejudice)

Why does Jim prefer to spend time with them?

Analyze Lena's purpose in the novel, and compare her to Antonia & Tiny.

Antonia's Relationships

How do the characters react to her relationship with Larry Donovan.

How does this tragedy help define Antonia's character?

Describe Antonia's relationship with Anton and their children.

Describe Antonia's relationship to the land.


Person-against-self - an internal conflict of feelings.

Person-against-person - the typical protagonist vs. antagonist scenario.

Person-against-society - the protagonist battles against the larger organizations of society
(or a system of beliefs held by society).

Person-against-nature - the protagonist is threatened by a component of nature.


The one who stays with the land will be magnified and fulfilled. How does this theme relate to the lives of Jim, Antonia, and Lena?

Relationship between new immigrants (the Shimerdas especially) and the older immigrants (represented by the Burdens). How do their relationships define the attitudes and life issues on the prairie?

Themes: friendship, immigration and prejudice, loneliness.

Discuss the structure of the novel -- a collection of memories told by Jim Burden.