The Prairie of My Antonia
Report by: Austin Stuhr

“The earth was warm under me, and warm as I crumbled it through my fingers...I kept as still as I could. Nothing happened. I did not expect anything to happen. I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.” This passage from My Antonia describes what it was like in Nebraska.

The setting in the book is of a land that was important to Willa Cather which she was passionate about. She made it seem almost dreamlike with all of its strong imagery through detail. Willa Cather shares her respect for nature by describing its size, beauty, and power. Another important idea of My Antonia was manifest destiny, which is the belief that Americans were destined to spread throughout the United States. Jim Burden was an example of manifest destiny when he headed West he said, " It is not yet a country, but rather the material that countries are made of."

The land also was an influence on the settlers in a good and bad way. Many of the settlers found opportunity and a love for the land while others weren't that lucky like Mr. Shimerda who ended up shooting himself because of all the hardship he went through in Nebraska.

When I visited the prairie, I found it to be peaceful and relaxing. The sound of the birds singing and the wind moving through the tall grass was very soothing. I saw shades of gold in the prairie as Fall was approaching. The wide open space housed wildlife shown by badger and gopher holes. The smell was of dry grass.

Before the prairie trip, when I would pass through a prairie I wouldn't take time to appreciate it. But this trip made me stop and use my senses to explore the prairie and appreciate all of its beauty. The importance of this preserved prairie is that it is a home for many types of animals and is an outdoor classroom for students.


"Marie Ratzlaff Prairie Preserve." - Prairie Plains Resource Institute. -Prairie Plains Resource Institute, 2014. Web. 13 Nov. 2014.

Shmoop Editorial Team. "My Ántonia Setting." Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 13 Nov. 2014.

Blythe, Hayley. "English 202." English 202 - Professor O'Connell. Professor O' Connell, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.