Monday, April 23rd, 2018...8:53 pmVictoria

Experimenting with point of view in “My Antonia”

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For my experiment with point of view, I looked at the passage of the story of Pavel and Peter and the discussion of it between Jim and Antonia. Jim recounts how he and Antonia reacted to the story, and how they dealt with it later on, but I thought it would be interesting to change the perspective from Jim to Antonia with these passages:

p. 53-54

“On the way home, when we were lying in the straw, under the jolting and rattling I told Jim as much of the story as I could. What I did not tell him then, I told later; we talked of nothing else for days afterward.”

p. 59

“The loss of his two friends had a depressing effect upon my father. When he was out hunting, he used to go into the empty log house and sit there, brooding. This cabin was his hermitage until the winter snows penned us in our cave. For myself and Jim, the story of the wedding party was never at an end. We did not tell Pavel’s secret to any one, but guarded it jealously- as if the wolves of the Ukraine had gathered that night long ago, and the wedding party been sacrificed, to give us a painful and peculiar pleasure.”

The first passage on pages 53 and 54, if it was coming from Antonia instead of Jim, would give much more of an insight as to her feelings concerning Jim and her confidence in him as a friend. I think up to this point in the story, it is not quite clear that Jim’s fascination and friendship with Antonia is reciprocated in the same way. If she were to narrate this experience that she and Jim had together, I think it would show that she truly wanted to connect with him. It would convey that she was connected to Jim as well: I think someone who was critical of this book might say that Jim’s friendship with Antonia could be partially because of curiosity about people who are different from him, which could be true as well concerning Antonia’s feelings of friendship for Jim, but in my opinion it would be harder for Antonia to trust Jim than it would be for Jim to trust Antonia, due to their family situations. Jim, although new to Nebraska, was born in America and is generally familiar with the area, and is not considered a “foreigner” or someone who is an “outsider” where he lives. Antonia, however, would be viewed under higher scrutiny by the other people living in the town, because of her being an “outsider”. Thus, for her to be so open about her friendship with Jim would be a risk, since people may question her intentions more than Jim’s.

The second passage being in Antonia’s perspective, with her talking about her father while also continuing to describe her and Jim’s shared feelings about the story of Pavel and Peter, would give more insight as to her relationship with her father. It would highlight how she noticed her father’s isolation, and it would show the sadness that she felt regarding seeing her father broken down. This passage would contrast the loneliness she felt concerning her father and the connection she found in Jim. By Antonia saying that she and Jim kept Pavel’s secret to themselves, and told no one else, would signify that Antonia was not simply spending time with Jim because it was expected of her or because he was the only one there, but that she genuinely connected with him as a person.

 



3 Comments

  •   Professor Seiler
    April 24th, 2018 at 8:26 pm

    Victoria: What an empathetic post! I so much appreciate the light your post sheds on how a shift in p.o.v. deepens our understanding not only of whomever one makes the narrator, but also of the interpersonal relationships in _MA_. Well done!

  • The Peter and Pavel story is so layered, and I think moving things into a more sympathetic lens brings out a very different side. For Jim, this story is more “foreign,” and in a strange way thus tied to Antonia’s foreignness as well. I think to move this story to Antonia’s point of view makes it less sensationalized, but also separates her more distinctly from that experience of moving to America.

  • I was quite surprised by your post and had to re-read these excerpts to make sure that in the original version, they came from Jim instead of Antonia. To me, they actually seemed more natural when told from Antonia’s perspective. I was particularly struck by the second passage when you changed Jim’s point of view to Antonia’s to describe Mr. Shimerdas. This move clearly illustrates Antonia’s awareness of her father’s changes, no matter how subtle they were, when he no longer shared Peter and Pavel’ companion. “For myself and Jim, the story of the wedding party was never at an end”: I was especially struck by this sentence. The story of the wedding party did not end for the children, for it was so violent and thrilling to leave any kid’s mind. “The wedding party” also did not end because it left a devastating effect on everyone who heard of, or was a part of it: whether it was the children, the father, or the participants themselves.

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