Thursday, January 14, 2016

“Punished For the Loveliness of Summer”: Willa Cather’s My Antonia

In Book II, Chapter 6 of My Antonia, Jim, the young protagonist, is fighting against the cold winter wind which has just overtaken the land. As he reflects,

“The pale, cold light of the winter sunset did not beautify—it was like the light of truth itself. When the smoky clouds hung low in the west and the red sun went down behind them, leaving a pink flush on the snowy roofs and the blue drifts, then the wind sprang up afresh, with a kind of bitter song, as if it said: “This is reality, whether you like it or not. All those frivolities of summer, the light and shadow, the living mask of green that trembled over everything, they were lies, and this is what was underneath. This is the truth.” It was as if we were being punished for loving the loveliness of summer.”