Monday, 18 April 2011

A Pioneers Life

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1) Introduction

) Overall Outlook

a) Typical view of the land

Custom Essays on A Pioneers Life

b) Typical homes

) Hardships on Immigrants

a) Not knowing the language

b) They were poor

c) Their homes

i) The Shimerda’s House

d) Their farming practices

i) Use of women as men

ii) The way they kept their food

4) Hardness to Women and how they were viewed

a) Immigrant women were viewed by others as working class (not as good as the others)

b) Most women were viewed as objects

5) Hardness of Women

a) Women worked liked the men

i) As hard as men or harder

6) Getting old makes it harder to live

a) grandparents moved to the city after years in the frontier

7) Tribute to pioneer women

a) Antonia

i) Living a hard life

ii) Being left pregnant from her husband

iii) Finding a husband

iv) Raising a handsome farm

v) Having children

vi) Finally being happy

8) Conclusion


A Pioneers Life

Life on the frontier was dangerous for everyone who lived there. Whether you were from there or an immigrant just moving to the plain it was difficult. There homes were rugged, there was fighting over tools and animals, feuding between families, men and women committed suicide, the language barrier for immigrants and the weather were hard on everyone and everything. Frontier life in general was hard.

In modern America, the land is overpopulated, over cultivated, and buildings as far as the eyes can see. When one thinks of frontier life one thinks of rough looking men and women struggling to survive. Our viewpoint is not far from the truth of the lives that many men and women spent under the starts giving us the land that we now have. The frontier in that day was barren of houses, fields and people. “The little town of Hanover, anchored on a windy Nebraska tableland, was trying not to be blown away…low drab buildings huddled on the gray prairie, under a gray sky” (Cather, Pioneers 1). In different literature written about and during the time of the frontier are all about the same when it comes to the setting of the story itself.

A typical pioneer’s home was composed of rough wood, sod and anything else that deemed useful. Some of the pioneers that had lived on the prairie long enough to make a profit built sturdier and nicer looking homes. “The dwelling-houses were set about haphazard on the tough prairie sod…None of them had any appearance of permanence, and the howling wind blew under them as well as over them” (Cather, Pioneers 1). During the winter months, when the weather was cold and desolate, the cold air would seep through the cracks and chill the home. There was usually a wood stove in the middle or the corner of the kitchen to cook the food and also to warm the house. The washtub was usually located behind or near the stove. “The stove was very large, with bright nickel trimmings, and behind it there was a long wooden bench against the wall, and a tin washtub, into which grandmother poured hot and cold water” (Cather, Antonia ). Another hardship the immigrants faced was when they lived in their homeland they were either rich or well off. When they came to America they were poor and living in poverty. “Cather portrays the immense hardships faced by figures like Antonia Shimerda and her family, not only the hardships of poverty, landscape and climate, but also the social barriers erected against immigrants of particular and ethnic and religious backgrounds” (Dykema-VanderArk 1). That was shock enough for many that journeyed to America. They had to rely on neighbors, who sometimes lived far off, to supply food and clothing in the hard times. The dwellings that the immigrants called “home” were usually nothing more than a hole dug in a hill or a cave. “the unprepared, impoverished Shimerdas live in a sod dugout-a cramped dwelling “dug out” from the soil that is plastered over with sod…The interior of this “badger hole” is even worse, as Jim discovers on a later visit” (Millspaugh ). Their homes were damp in the rain season and cold in the winter. In the case of the Shimerda family, they lived in a cave and were close to starving the first year of their stay in America. “The animalistic groveling struggle for survival of the penniless Shimerdas during their first winter in a sod hut. Cather depicts the hardships of the struggle to endure the weather and to master the land” (Blackall 1). The Shimerda’s home wasn’t one of extravagance and riches but it was a home of poverty.

When immigrants moved to American in search of a better life, they were not prepared for the language barrier many received. Many of the immigrants didn’t think the language gap would be that great when they came. “His mother scowled and said sternly, ‘Marek’ then spoke rapidly to Krajiek in Bohemian. ‘She wants me to tell you he wont hurt nobody…’” (Cather, Antonia 18). When they noticed they couldn’t teach themselves they often hired people to teach them. Mr. Shimerda wanted the best for his family, knowing Antonia had the passion to learn the language, “’Name? What Name?’ she asked, touching me (Jim) on the shoulder. I told her my name, and she repeated it after me and made Yulka say it. She pointed to the cottonwood tree…’What Name?’” (Cather, Antonia 0), he wanted her to study the language and he wanted Mrs. Burden and Jim to teach her. “We went with Mr. Shimerda…He placed this book in my grandmother’s hands…and said…’Te-e-ach, te-e-ach my An-tonia!’” (Cather, Antonia 0). Jim and Antonia would study pretty much everyday. Antonia loved to learn. It didn’t take long for her to speak the language fluently.

The original farmers, the pioneers, were very hard workers. Being hard workers fit right into their hard lifestyle. When they plowed their fields they had to do it in time with the season. Plowing was one of the hardest, most time-consuming tasks of farming. They had to hitch the horse or cow to the plow and then steer from behind while all the time keeping the plow well into the ground. They couldn’t plow just anytime they had to do it when they time was right or the crop wouldn’t be good. They couldn’t plow to soon or the ground would harden again and the crop wouldn’t grow properly. They couldn’t do it to late either or the crop wouldn’t be ripe in time for the harvest.

The immigrants were too poor to hire people to help them with the chores of farming so they had to have the women come out from the house to help. The immigrant women were usually hard and coldhearted when it came to a social mentality. They were to work as the men would; doing everything that is expected of a man to perform. In the case of Antonia she became hardhearted and strong. She didn’t want to study they language any longer. “’I ain’t got time to learn. I can work like mans now. My mother can’t say no more how Ambrosch do all and nobody to help him. I can work as much as him. School is all right for little boys. I help make this land one good farm” (Cather, Antonia 80). Antonia began boasting about her strength, how she was as strong or stronger than the men. “Nowadays Tony could talk of nothing but the price of things, or how much she could lift and endure. She was too proud of her strength…farmhands around the country joked in a nasty way about it” (Cather, Antonia 81). The immigrant girls were viewed as either hardhearted and calloused workers or whores that should work in the hotels or saloons. “The casual reader may well be surprised at the number of female characters who turn out to be or to have been whores” (Simon & Schuster 6). Others viewed Antonia, as well as the other immigrant women as not good enough for their men or to come eat at their restaurants. There was a prejudice when it came to immigrants, Indians, blacks, or Asians. Many, if not all the towns of that day and age had a church for the whites and another church for everyone else. It was viewed as improper or just plain wrong for anyone other than a white person or family to come to a white church or establishment. There was even prejudice between nationalities of immigrants. When it came to where Mr. Shimerda was to be buried there was a controversy over a site. “The officers of the Norwegian church…had held a meeting and decided that the Norwegian graveyard could not extend its hospitality to Mr. Shimerda” (Cather, Antonia 7). Mrs. Shimerda buried Mr. Shimerda at the crossroads of their property which was the custom in their religion when someone committed suicide.

There was, at times, feuding between families over various things. Many of the feuds were over borrowed farm equipment and misunderstandings. Most times the “feuding” was just the families stopped talking to each other. There were on occasion more dangerous feuding which involved shooting, stealing and murders. In the case of My Antonia, the feuding between the Burdens and the Shimerdas was not speaking, a couple of arguments and fistfights.

“Jake asked for the collar, he grunted and scratched his head…Jake, feeling responsible for it, flared up…Ambrosch…began to climb the mill. Jake caught him by the belt…he (Ambrosch) lunged out with a vicious kick at Jake’s stomach…he (Jake) landed Ambrosch a blow on the head…Ambrosch dropped over, stunned” (Cather, Antonia 8).

Living on the prairie, this example is one of the more mild feuds. Many of the other feuds were more deadly.

The last thing that was hard about prairie life was the weather. The summers were extremely hot and in places humid. The falls were hard because that is the time of the harvest. The springs are a time of plowing and planting. The winters are bitter cold and full of snow. For the immigrants it was doubly hard because they were poor and didn’t have a lot of food in the first months. It was a fight for survival.

One my conclude that life in general on the prairie was hard. There was nothing easy about it. It was a fight to survive and live together. One would think that nothing good could have come out of the lives of the pioneers but they would be mistaken. If it wasn’t for their faith in God and hard work we as a country wouldn’t exist.

Works Cited

Blackall, Jean Frantz. “My Antonia Overview.” Reference Guide to American Literature, rd. ed.

Ed. Jim Kamp. St. James Press, 14.

Cather, Willa. My Antonia. New York Dover Publications, 14.

Cather, Willa. O Pioneers! New York Dover Publications, 1.

Dykema-Vanderark, Anthony M. “An overview of My Antonia.” Exploring Novels. Glae, 18

Miller, James E., Jr. “My Antonia and the American Dream,” Prairie Schooner 48. (174) 11-.

Literature Resource Center. GaleNet. 6 Aug. 00.

“Setting more than just time and place,” Writing .6 (000) 18+. MasterFile Premier.

EBSCOhost. Aug. 00.

Sedey, Joe. “Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry.” Novelist. 6 Aug. 00

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