Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Analysis of "O Pioneers" and "A Wagner Matinée"

The excerpt from "O, Pioneers" is a fine example of not only realism, but regionalism as well. This is because in the the excerpt, the author is talking about a certain region or area of the country, and telling her story using very specific examples from the area or region in her story(Anderson). For example, the author is quoted as saying,"The thing to do was to get back to Iowa, to Illinois, to any place that had been proved habitable. The Bergson boys, certainly, would have been happier with their Uncle Otto, in the bakery shop in Chicago(Cather O Pioneers 389)." From this quote, it is very easy to see how this work by Willa Cather reflects regionalism. By using specific locations such as Iowa, Illinois, and Chicago, it shows that the work is focusing obviously on a specific region of the country. Another example of realism that this work shows is the American Dream. The American Dream in realist writing is the view that anyone who has the luck to come to the United States of America has a change to experience the land of opportunity and become wealthy. The author of this work shows examples of the American Dream by the way she describes the hardships that the characters are going through. For example, within the excerpt from the story, Cathe quotes,"Then came the hard times that brought everyone on the divide to the brink of despair; three years of drought and failure, the last struggle of a wild soil of the encroaching plowshare(Cather, A Wagner)." From this quote it is easy to see how the family in the story is working so hard to get their taste of the American Dream. The other story by Cather "The Wagner Matinée," also reflects many characteristics of realism. Like the other work by Cather, not only does that story reflect realism, but it also reflects regionalism as well by the way the story uses very specific locations and dialect of a certain area or region of a country. For example, within the story, the states,"This communication, worn and rubbed, looking as if it has been carried in a coat pocket that was none too clean, was from my Uncle Howard, and informed me that his wife had been left a small legacy by a bachelor relative,and that it would be necessary for her to go to Boston to attend the settling of the estate.(Cather "A Wagner" 521-526)" From this quote it is easy to see how this story reflect regionalism writing by the way the author uses specific areas and dialect to portray the meaning or the message of the story(Anderson). The main way that this story by Cather reflects realism is by the simple existence of human nature that Cather includes within the story. For example, when the two characters are at the matinée, Georgiana stars crying from the beauty of the music and says that when it is over, she does not want to leave the auditorium and have to carry on in a grey, world without music. This represents realism by the way the character sees the world for how it truly is compared to how she wants it to be(Cather "A Wagner" 526)(Barney,Paddock).

Anderson, George P., Judith S. Baughman, Matthew J. Bruccoli, and Carl Rollyson, eds."regionalism." Encyclopedia of American Literature: Into the Modern: 1896–1945, vol. 3, Revised Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2008. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Online. http://fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= EAmL1330&SingleRecord=True. February 13, 2011.

Cather, Willa. "O Pioneers!" Glencoe American Literature. comp. Wilhelm, Jeffery. McGraw Hill. Columbus, OH. 2009. pg. 489. (Cather, O Pioneers)


Barney, Brett, and Lisa Paddock, eds. "realism." Encyclopedia of American Literature: The Age of Romanticism and Realism, 1816–1895, vol. 2, Revised Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2008. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Online. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= EAmL0738&SingleRecord=True. February 8, 2011. (Barney,Paddock)


Cather, Willa. "A Wagner Matinée." Glencoe American Literature. comp. Wilhelm, Jeffery. McGraw Hill. Columbus, OH. 2009. 521-526. Print.

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