Thursday, November 9th, 2017...11:43 amhrbekm

Conversation by the Sandbar

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p. 228-229 from Àntonia’s perspective:

I was sitting on the lower shelf of the bank when I looked up at the sound of footsteps and saw Jim. I smiled at him, but he must have known I had been crying. He slid down beside me and asked me what was the matter.

“It makes me homesick, Jimmy, this flower, this smell,” I confided. “We have this flower very much at home, in the old country. It always grew in our yard and my papa had a green bench and a table under the bushes. In summer, when they were in bloom, he used to sit there with his friend that played the trombone. When I was little I used to go down there to hear them talk — beautiful talk, like what I never hear in this country.”

“What did they talk about?” he asked me.

I sighed and shook my head. “Oh, I don’t know! About music, and the woods, and about God, and when they were young.” Then a thought struck me suddenly and I asked him, “You think, Jimmy, that maybe my father’s spirit can go back to those old places?”

He began to talk about that winter when my father died. There was a day, he said, when his grandparents had come to see the body, and Jim was left alone in their house. He described a feeling he’d had: a feeling that my father was on his way back to “his own country,” and that, even now, when Jim passed his grave, he pictured my father among the woods and fields that were so dear to him. Jim had never seen those woods and fields for himself, and I’m sure his imagination did not capture them to perfection, but he spoke with such certainty that I couldn’t help but trust him.


  •   Rachel Lockwood
    November 11th, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Melanie, I’m really glad you chose this scene. I liked this scene when I read it in the book, but I like it even more now reading it from Ántonia’s perspective. Despite Jim’s grand assumptions about the world around him he makes up to this point in the book, this scene, written from Ántonia’s perspective, bring out the best in both characters. Jim seems more understanding and sympathetic in this scene. He shows a certain level of emotional maturity that I don’t he has shown much up to this point. On the other hand, I think scene brings out in Ántonia some of her innocence that has been lost as she’s grown older. It was nice, in this scene, to see that she was still thinking about where she came from.

  • Mel, I think that I don’t quite enjoy this book as much as others in the class. However, reading this passage from Ántonia’s perspective was a welcome change. On a more technical note, the word choice you selected for the brief moments that describe Antonia’s thoughts and feelings fit in perfectly with the original text. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought Cather wrote it herself.

  • When I read this passage in the book, I thought it represented Antonia and her thoughts well, which makes it interesting to read it from her perspective. Her father’s death probably still haunts her, and the fact that Jim can comfort her in this way reveals their unique friendship. I found it interesting how you say Antonia “couldn’t help but trust him,” which shows she is desperately seeking consolation, and the power of Jim’s words.

  •   Professor Seiler
    November 14th, 2017 at 9:49 am

    Melanie–what beautiful writing from Antonia’s perspective, the absence of which–as your Lily’s, Sayahn’s, and Rachel’s comments attest–gets more and more marked as the book goes on. One thing I especially love about your version of this scene is that Antonia’s nostalgia and longing for “the old country” are both hers (her lived experience) and inherited.

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