Essay by mizzsusuUniversity, Bachelor'sB, December 2006

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"Optima dies... prima fugit". These lines introduce us to Jim Burden's world. Translated from Virgil's Georgics, it simply reads; "the best days... are the first to flee". Ántonia, the focus of this essay, as well as the focus of Jim's novel, represents these 'best days', and all the memories that have fled, and vanished. By writing his novel, Jim relives his past, and is able to tell us his memories, and his feelings about these memories. Jim tells us about his childhood in Nebraska, and hints at many things, such as yearning for the past and childhood, but it all remains incommunicable, for his feelings for Ántonia, and for his past alike, seem to be hidden among various situations, and cannot be described in words. Jim tries hard to relive his past, but in doing so he realizes that it has fled and parts of his memory will forever remain incommunicable.

From the very beginning, Jim's novel establishes itself with strong yearnings for a vanished past. A past that no one would be able to understand fully, specially not one who has never lived and "grown up in a little prairie town" (p.1). Ántonia embedded all these feelings and memories from the past, and was deeply admired. "More then any other person we remembered, this girl seemed to mean to us the country, the conditions, the whole adventure of our childhood" (p.2). Ántonia therefore, was more then just a simple Bohemian girl, but was seen to represent everything from their childhood that they cherished. "To speak her name was to call up pictures of people and places, to set a quiet drama going on in one's brain" (p.2). This further reinforces that Ántonia was symbolic of the memories, including places and people.

Through out the novel, the theme of longing...