March 2nd, 2016 by livvypoulin

The Coat Room Scene: Lily’s Perspective

—Is it snowing again, Mr. Con-ner-roy?  asked Lily.

A snide smirk spread across Gabriel’s lips, making Lily’s face flush.  Lily was annoyed by his pretentiousness, but she was too stubborn to show that coming from a lower class than him embarrassed her.  She had known Gabriel since she was a little girl, and understood even during her childhood that his life would always be very different from her own.

—Yes Lily, he answered, I think we’re in for a night of it.

Lily watched his eyes flit around the room.  She wondered if he paid this little attention to everyone he talked to.

—Tell me Lily, do you still go to school?  Gabriel asked.

—O no, sir, she answered, I’m done schooling this year and more.

—O then, said Gabriel, I suppose we’ll be going to your wedding one of these fine days with your young man, eh?

Lily gawked at his foolishness, at his total lack of understanding.  She was infuriated by how little he thought of her.  Did he really think she was foolish enough to believe the hollow claims of all the men she had met?  The last thing she would do is succumb to that level of ignorance, simply because it would prove to all of the men like Gabriel that they were right.

February 17th, 2016 by livvypoulin

Widow Quin and Pegeen are getting catty…

The scene that made me laugh the most was when Pegeen and Widow Quin physically fight over Christy.  Both women embody such unchecked brashness, and their animated discussion rises almost to the verge of hysteria.  In the script, there is some stage direction that hints at both women’s physical manipulation of Christy–“(she pulls Christy up)…(seizing his arm)” (Synge 112).  If I were directing this play, I would exaggerate the physicality of this scene, in order to fully dramatize its humor.  I would block the scene so that after Widow Quin pulls Christy up out of his chair, and Pegeen grabs his arm, each woman would tug him further in their own direction as they said their respective lines.  For further contrast, the actor playing Christy would appear helpless and limp, so that when Widow Quin and Pegeen tugged on his arm, he would fall helplessly to each woman’s side as if he were a rag doll.  The exaggerated physicality of the scene would couple the rising drama and shrillness in the women’s voices, which Synge notes as “(breaking out in a wild rage)” (Synge 112).  This scene is a genuine farce, given the over-exaggeration that characterizes the dramatic argument.  I also loved this scene because while a generic stereotype would entail two men  fighting over a woman, this scene plays up the opposite situation, in which two women shamelessly fight in good humor over a younger man.

April 21st, 2014 by davidmenchel

Porch Talk

“My goodness what a businessman that Ambrosch thinks he is.” I laughed to the company sitting around my porch.

It was late already, the sun had stopped attacking us hours ago. Frances and I had just returned home, gotten in around dinner time. The trip was exhausting, but entirely worth the effort.

“We loved her.” I smiled to the eager young boy. He seemed to have invested more interest in this deal than I had, “Loved her as soon as we saw her.”

The two of them, The Burden’s- Jim and his grandma- they were good people, but my god were they nosy. All I wanted to do was come home from a long day of travel and sit back on my porch, chug down a glass of whatever we got that’s cold, and sit in quiet for a while. To collect myself, ya know? Thoughts scatter fast if ya don’t spend the time to snatch ’em. But the Burden’s wanted every detail of my day. I mean, my goodness, I don’t even tell my diary this much. I’ve always been too much of a people person. Never have had the heart to say scram. But there are worse burdens to be stuck with I suppose, pun intended.

There was something peculiar that happened though, it was after our first few subjects of chatting. Frances started explaining the scene of the farm when we arrived. Right then and there, there was this twinkling I noticed in the small boys eyes, right around when Frances began talkin’ of Antonia, sittin’ there in the field with her brown legs and arms. Well by god, that boy lit up like one of them fancy automobiles, I never saw a look like that in all my years. It was like love, but it wasn’t, all at the same time. He looked right through me, right through Frances, through all the towns buildings and land, straight toward the horizon and then some. The mention of this girls beauty put him in such a trance, but it wasn’t one of love. He looked intoxicated with a desperate longing for a friend he left behind. I could see the gears turning in that skull of his, setting up some kind of fairy tale where the two of ’em got to be neighbors and run the world together. I agreed to hire her, even with Ambrosch’s ridiculousness, because I was helping out a friend. But now it evolved past all that mumbo-jumbo and found a new reason. I wanted Antonia here because I could tell from the look on young Burden’s face she was somethin’ special, somethin’ that no one else would understand unless they could see that star studded gaze in Jim’s pupils.

My mind was unfocused long enough for Frances to asked what had happened to Mr. Shimerda, and just like that I was stuck there listening for who knows how long. That was my own fault. But like I said, there are worse burdens to be stuck with. Far worse.

April 21st, 2014 by cierraossege

Nothing Wrong

It began with that Ole Benson showing up every day in the field where I was herding and trying to help with the cattle. I didn’t need his help, really, but I didn’t know what else to do. I suppose that I could have told him to leave me alone with a bit of force or asked someone to help me shake him off. But I kind of liked the attention. And from that point on, I just kept getting more and more.

The women of the settlement got me all dressed up and made me go to church after that. Everyone stared at me when I walked in, but I didn’t really mind. And then after church when Ole lifted me onto my horse and then settlement exploded in upset, all over me, I couldn’t help but love it. I certainly didn’t love Ole, or even like him all that much, but people were paying attention to me because he was paying attention to me. I was the talk of the town. And I wasn’t even doing anything, really. And yet all anyone could do was be all concerned over me.

So when his wife, Mary, came running after me that day after church, saying all those horrible things, I couldn’t care less. I sat above all of the after church crowd on my horse and I looked back at Mary, but what caught my attention was crowd of women behind her. All those women were so incredibly uncomfortable, and it all because of me. I couldn’t help but laugh a bit as I rode off.

But then that horrible crazy woman started chasing me. I would run through the Shimerda’s cornfields, all the time wondering if maybe this time crazy Mary would catch me. I can still remember the sound of her voice, cawing at me, signaling my take off. If I think about it hard enough, I can still almost feel that slamming feeling where my stomach would drop and the whole world would seem to freeze as every muscle in my body would tense.

One afternoon Mary was so close to catching me that I ran straight into the Shimerda’s house, not knowing what else to do. I lay in Antonia’s feather bed, shaking like I was cold but feeling like I would suffocate from the heat. I heard Mary threatening me outside. And worse, once I caught my breath, I heard Mrs. Shimerda chuckling from the other side of the house as she listened to Mary describe how she intended to maim me.

I became so angry then. I was a joke to that woman, and I didn’t like it one bit. Finally Tony came to the rescue and sent the crazy lady away. The anger had counteracted my terror and I came out from the bed feeling not much of anything anymore. That was, until I remembered I needed to return to the cattle. I begged Jim and Tony to go with me. I’m not sure how a kid and girl no older than I could have helped me if the mad woman returned, but it was better than being alone. And they could at least help me find them all from wherever they surely wandered off to.

But then that Mrs. Shimerda pestered me about my nonexistent relationship with Ole, the fear and worry again disappeared. I looked back at that woman who was so wrapped up in the gossip surrounding me, for something that was no fault of my own. I didn’t feel like I joke then. I felt kind of powerful. I smiled at her and told her the truth. I hadn’t done nothing wrong.

April 21st, 2014 by livvypoulin

A Part of Something Entire

Jim’s moment of reflection in the garden, as seen by his grandmother:

Jim lies in the garden, a wash of sun spilling over his pale features.  I can only see the slight rise and fall of his chest as he breathes in the pungent air.  Aside from this, he blends with pumpkins and the leaves that surround him.

I have spent countless hours on this same plot of land, but only watching Jim am I overcome with such a sense of stillness.  I wonder if he will find peace in this stretch of the country, new and unfamiliar to him as foreign soil.  He and I are the same- we are related as closely by our Virginian homeland as by our own blood, but I know he is drawn westward for reasons far more severe than my own.

I am sad for him, and I imagine he must be afraid.  He has become an orphan at such a young age, and I wonder if he will become homesick.  He seems so absorbed in the Nebraskan landscape.  In many ways, the landscape is as raw and undefined as his own life, although he will soon find himself shaped by the routine of living in this part of the country.  For now, I am happy that he is with me, as another reminder of home, and hope that he might preserve this solace in the garden as he engages in the new world around him.

April 21st, 2014 by lizzy

A different kind of value

I’ve rewritten part II of book II from Antonia’s point of view.


Ambrosch’s decided that I’m to live with the Harling family as their hired girl. I’m not happy about it – I do just fine as hired help for the farmers, and I know that they’d rather have me than Ambosch binding sheaves or working thrashers for them. My family thinks they’re saving me from a life of hard farm work, but I’d rather do that than just about anything else. I’ve built this land, seen it from its desolate beginnings to its fruitful present. If anyone deserves to keep working it, it’s me. My mama says that land is for the boys, and I want Ambrosch to be rich off of it, but I want to make this land one good farm.

I was working in the garden when the Harlings came to meet me. They seem like nice enough folks, but I know they’ll want me to keep to the house, to do all the things that are “proper” for a young girl like me.  I don’t even care about the pocket money or anything like that – I just want to do work that matters. I suppose that one good thing that will come of this is that I get to go to school. Maybe there I’ll get to learn all the things my Father did when he went to school. I’d have gone to school earlier, but I haven’t had the time – farming doesn’t let you take breaks, and Ambrosch needed somebody to help him.

When I’m with the Harlings, I’ll also get to see Jim. I never thought I’d be the kind of girl he liked, what with my rough skin and hands and need for work. I haven’t been around kids my own age for so long, but so few have had to do what I have. It feels silly, though, to be living in a nice house and having free time to play while Mama and Ambrosch stay here at the farm. I never knew for sure, but I always thought that Jim and his grandparents felt sorry for us for the way we lived. We may not have a lot, but what we do have, we work for. Maybe the best way I can accept this is to think of the money I’ll be sending back home. I hate to think my pocket wages would be more valuable than my physical work, but I suppose that’s up for Ambrosch and Mama to decide themselves.




April 21st, 2014 by isabellang

Ántonia’s Education

The portion I chose to re-write pertains to Ántonia’s education. I don’t know why this particular scene in My Ántonia stuck with me; I think maybe it spawned from our course, gender and sexuality studies, race, and so on. Specifically, how education intertwines into the novel and Ántonia’s opportunities. I went back and forth on exactly why Ántonia was crying in the scene. I think it could be taken either way. The original passage is on page 118 from Jim’s point of view, mine is from Antonia’s:

I rested my feet after a day’s work of ploughing. I had started to plough more than Jake and didn’t want him to get more done than me, I could do just as much, if not more, than they boys. The more corn we got ploughed meant the more we had in the fall.

Jim sat down next to me.

“Jim, you ask Jake how much he ploughed to-day. I don’t want that Jake get more done in one day than me. I want we have very much corn this fall.”

I remember the fire last night; I hope Jim’s father didn’t lose any stacks. I asked him but he interrupted my babbling, “ . . . Grandmother wants to know if you can’t go to the term of school that begins next week over at the sod schoolhouse. She says there’s a good teacher, and you’d learn a lot.”

I sat up abruptly. I don’t know why he thought I needed schooling. I could work as hard as a man. I was as strong as a man. Little boys go to school, I help out on the farm. I was told this, so I told him that. I’m good at farming.

But, I do wonder what school would be like. My father had gone to school. He read so many books and knew much more than me. Maybe if I went to school I could be like my father and learn like he did. I knew that wasn’t a possibility for me though.

Jim and I were walking towards the barn. I began to weep. I tried to hide it from him. I didn’t want him thinking I was weak or sad about it. I wasn’t crying only because of school, I missed my father. I knew I’d never go to a school like he did. He was a smart man. I hope Jim will remember him as that, as a smart, educated man. Jim will be that too. Maybe someday he can tell me all about it.

April 20th, 2014 by melissasturges

Read it as soon as you can, but don’t let it influence your own story

Then end of Book One XVII from the perspective of: The Author

Ántonia worked all that spring and summer.  We never saw much of her during that time and when we did it was only through a layer of sweat and dirt smeared across her face.  She was just like a man now; her skin was tanner, her hair greasier, her clothes darker and more revealing.  Her once shrill accent was now course and textured.  Her hair and clothes were grimy and torn; she made me look like a porcelain doll.  She leaned back when she sat and stretched her arms behind her, basking in her muskiness.  I sat up straight.  Her muscular limbs were too long for her dress and she loved to let the breeze cool and dry the sweat on her thinning cotton dress.  I wore a straightjacket.

Ántonia stayed out in the fields from sun-up till sundown.  Jim rode up to her almost every day; I tagged along sometimes.  She would always take a moment for us, but even that we knew was only a gift.  I was much younger so I never really minded, but Jim hated to see a girl act so grown-up towards him.  For a moment, he turned back into a little boy, silently grouching to himself on the way home.  I always looked back at Ántonia to share a smirk.

Jim was distraught; I could see it in the way he looked at her now.  This was not his Ántonia; this was Ambrosch’s or her father’s or his grandmother’s or someone else’s entirely.  Perhaps the land itself had taken her.  But what he knew for sure was this was not the pretty brown-eyed girl he saw on the train. He did not fear her, but could not find agreement with her.  She was not his.  She was a boy like him, but at the same time very much more.

Every day Ántonia did work well beyond her years and girlhood.  On Sundays, she worked for Jim’s Grandmother doing the same work any other female hand would do, only doing it much faster and without all the hassle.  She was not a girl like the rest any of us knew and certainly didn’t behave like one.  At the time, Jim’s grandmother, I’m sure, was right: she would help some fellow get ahead in the world.  That is, if the fellow were willing to let her get ahead first.

April 3rd, 2014 by melissasturges

Stranger Than Fiction

To be perfectly honest, I remember very little about the actual “learning to read” process that took place sometime between kindergarten and 1st grade.  I do, however, remember teachers, librarians, administrators telling me, and specifically me, how much I loved to read and write.  I think this was their way of telling me I would never be good at sports.

I have little to no memory about when and how I learned to read, but I do have very early memories about the types of books I read.  Once I was beyond picture books, the next genre thrown at me was fairy tales.  This is where it started.  I was notoriously obsessed with fairy-tales, which is curious to me because I now cannot stand them.  But then again, not really, since I was apparently extremely critical of Little Red Riding Hood.  Mostly, I loved fantasy, adventure, intrigue, and mythology.  When I was seven years old I tried to read The Hobbit.  For obvious reasons, I could not.  Later that year, I was introduced to Harry Potter and it was all down hill from there.  At this point, it became clear that I was not a normal child; that I was going to be sharper, snippier and paler than most kids of my age.

I suppose it was the story-telling aspect that made me want to read, but the analysis that kept me interested (granted, at the time I did not know what that word meant).  Once I knew how to read well enough, it wasn’t just enough to decipher words, I needed to know what they meant and why.  I didn’t like non-fiction because I found it tool dense, dull and factual.  Later, when I had a greater knowledge of history understood what context and analysis were, my perceptions changed.

As to the question, I don’t know how I learned to read, but I might be able to tell you why.  I began to figure out what words could do, what they could mean and what they were capable of creating.  And I wanted to know them all.

April 3rd, 2014 by livvypoulin

Afternoons by the Bellamy

I am a toddler, clad in strawberry-print pants and my favorite sparkly red boots.  I am walking– rather, bouncing–hand in hand with my mother, through rows of shelves at the Dover Public Library.  She lets me go in front of her, free to thumb the spines of books on the lower shelves, titles in vibrant shades of purple, green, and blue.  Immediately, I reach for my favorites: Yoko and Bunny Cakes by Rosemary Wells, Zoom Broom by Margie Palatini, and A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon.  I proceed to lay out my options like a Chinese fan on the floor, but I know the rules well.  I am allowed to take two of my favorites, but I must choose some that are new.  No more than ten.

The librarian stamps each of my selections with the date that they must return, handing me the library card, and my mother the stack of books.  I make my way to the lounge area, and sit in a chair by the window that overlooks the waterfall of the Bellamy River.  My mother takes a book out of our tote bag and begins to read, but I don’t need her to flip the pages to know what happens next– I know the story of Yoko the kitten, teased at school for eating her favorite sushi.  I know how Max and Ruby fight to make the perfect cakes for their grandmother, one decorated with butter-cream frosting, the other made entirely of mud.  I know the trouble that plagues Gritch the Witch as she sets out to bake the perfect batch of bunny bread.  And of course I know the story of Camilla Cream, who is so worried about actually liking to eat lima beans that she breaks out in stripes.

I followed this routine for many years, and looked forward to my weekly trips to the library.  It was here, sitting in a chair with a stack of books, the Bellamy humming in my ears, that I learned to read.  Yet upon recollection, I realize that there is greater significance to the Dover Public Library than the building blocks of my literacy.  This is not solely where I learned to read, but where I fostered a love of reading.  This is where I discovered that the familiarity of books could be my home.

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