At the beginning of this century, ships docked in American ports with their steerages filled with European immigrants. Willa Cathers My Antonia, contains characters that immigrate to the country of America in search of hope and a new future in the Midwest prarie. This novel can be considered an American tale because it holds the American concept of the melting pot, the ideal of America as the land of opportunity, and the characters struggles could only have occurred in America rather than their own country.
“The melting pot” is the tremendous power of national imagination the promise that all immigrants can be transformed into Americans, a new alloy forged in a container of democracy, freedom and civic responsibility. The melting pot only exists in America which makes this country like no other. The characters in My Antonia embody this American ideal of diverse ethnicity. Otto Fuchs is of Austrian descent and came into America in the West in the presence of cowboys and worked for the Burdens in the milder country. Another set of foreigners were two Russians who lived up by the big dog-town…their last names were unpronounceable so they were called Pavel and Peter (54.) The most renowned set of foreigners were the Shimerdas coming for Bohemia. The divergent nationalities played an important role in effecting the foreigners lives.
For example, the Shimerdas had hated Krajiek, but they clung to him because he was the only human being from whom they could talk or from whom they could get information (53.) Because the Shimerdas had immigrated to America and were not able to speak the native language, they could only communicate with Krajiek as their interpreter and he could tell then anything he chose. This led Krajiek to take advantage of the Shimerdas when he charged them more than what the land was worth and freeloaded off the Shimerdas. Correspondingly, the hired girls such as Antonia, Lena Lingard, Tiny Soderball, and the three Marys, were immigrants and therefore had to work to help support their families. This led to the prejudice of the townspeople against the hired girls because the town girls viewed themselves as refined and that the country girls, who worked out were not (173.)
America is often called the land of opportunity because foreigners frequently immigrate to the country to start a new future and perform extensive labor to obtain working capital. The Russians Peter and Pavel had told the story of how they sacrificed a bride and groom to a pack of wolves when being attacked in their old country. Because of this action, Peter and Pavel were forsaken and ostracized. However, when they came to America, they had the chance to change their future and start on a clean slate. The main characters, the Shimerdas, had come in order to obtain a better future and find the riches that America had to offer. Mrs. Shimerda had told Antonia that her reasons for coming to America were America big country, much money, much land for my boys, much husband for my girls (96.)
Finally, the immigrants wouldnt have had to struggle had they been in their own country. My Antonia is titled after Antonia Shimerda because she was a pioneer woman who became a stronger person as she faced limitless challenges. Upon arrival in America, the Shimerdas had no chicken coop, no cellar in which to store food, and because of that, they were living on rotten potatoes. The girls slept in a hole dug in orderto keep them warm during the cold nights in their small sod house. Antonias fatherwanted to make sure the Burdens knew they were not beggars in the old country; hemade good wages, and his family were respected there (84.) However, in America, they were struggling just to obtain the basic needs and had trouble just fulfilling those.
To conclude, My Antonia is an American Tale because it couldnt take place anywhere else. Only America holds the abstraction of diverse ethnicity more commonly called the melting pot. America is customarily called the land of opportunity, and this is the reason the immigrants in the novel moved to America. Ultimately, the Shimerdas wouldnt have the tale of their demise and struggle if they had remained in their own country where they were on stable grounds.