My Antonia By Willa Cather

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.