My Antonia The Americian Dream Essay

My Antonia – The American Dream
In the novel, My Antonia, by Willa Cather, everyone seems to
be trying to pursue the American Dream. While they all have different
ideas of just exactly what the American Dream is, they all know
precisely what they want. For some, the American Dream sounds so
enticing that they have traveled across the world to achieve their
goal. They work hard to fit in and succeed, but, as in the case of Mr.
Shimerda, are not always successful.

One girl who was chasing the American Dream was Lena Lingard,
a small farm girl from a poverty-stricken family. Lena had one thing
on her mind: money. To her the American Dream was wealth. She wanted
freedom from worry about where her next meal would come from, or how
she would pay for a new dress. Lena began her journey to wealth by
becoming one of the many hired girls in the town of Black Hawk. There
she was apprentice to a dressmaker and before long began to show great
potential. She soon began making money with her newfound talent, and
used this money not to help herself, but to benefit her family. Lena
spent her free time buying clothes for them, and paid some of their
bills. She also went to many dances over the summer months. With all
of her beautiful dresses, many of the young men began to notice her as
they never had before. Soon Lena began to get a reputation that many
hired girls got, that of a brazen hussy. Everyone thought that she
would wind up marrying the wrong man and ruin her life, but Lena had
different plans. She did not listen to anything that they said about
her. As soon as she could, she got her own dress shop in Lincoln and
thrived with it. After a while she moved to San Francisco and did
even better. She did not let the stereotype of the hired girls get in
her way of the American Dream. She was determined to reach her goal
and with all of her hard work she did just that.
Some families traveled a great many miles to try to win the
American Dream. The Shimerdas came all the way from Bohemia and
gambled everything they had to make it in America. Antonia, the oldest
daughter, knew that to succeed in raising her very own family she
needed to learn the customs of this new country. With this in mind,
she asked for the help of Jim Burden, her closest neighbor. Every day
she learned a little bit more from him. He taught her farming methods
and other practices of farm life. As she picked up the language, she
began to do very well in her new surroundings. She helped out with all
of the farm work and did an excellent job. She worked in Black Hawk
for a respectable family that taught her everything she needed to know
about raising a good family. Antonia knew in her heart what a good
mother she would be and could not wait to be married. When she thought
that she had finally found a good husband, he left her at the altar
with a baby to care for, but this did not keep her down for long. She
found another man that suited her as a husband and together they had
nine children, all well behaved. Antonia’s American Dream of having
her own beautiful family had finally come true.
While Antonia was eager to be Americanized, her father was a
little bit wary of the idea. At first he was open minded about
starting a new life in America, but soon he grew homesick and tired of
farming. All that was familiar to him was left back in Bohemia. He
did not have one thing in America that pleased him as much as things
he had back home. He was lonesome and miserable most of the time, but
tried to keep it to himself so that the rest of his family would think
that everything was fine. It all just kept building up inside of him
and one day the burden got to be too much to carry. Mr. Shimerda shot
himself to end the pain of not being able to be close to the things he
loved. He did not want to Americanize. He wanted to be back in his
homeland again with his own people.
People will do anything to fulfill their dreams. They will
travel great distances or change their whole lifestyles to succeed. In
any case, dreams are very important to people, whether they be the
American Dream, or a new bike.

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