My Antonia

What prejudices are revealed in chapter 9?

This answer can be found in book 2 of My Antonia.

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This chapter provides an interesting example of the limitations of social mobility. Because the town girls have money and respectability, they are paradoxically limited in their life possibilities. They are not expected or encouraged to choose vocations for themselves, and they are just expected to get married. Their options in life are limited to becoming a wife and a mother. On the other hand, the country girls who are born poor have much more open to him. Since their families do not have the luxury of allowing them to stay at home, they have to go out into the world to work, and they there discover the myriad of possibilities open to them. They are thus able to actually choose a vocation, make money, and more fully engage in worldly pursuits.

While the hired girls are able to break free of traditional male-female constraints, they do so at a price: they lose social standing and respectability. Indeed, determined town girls, if they chose, could very well become employed, but they would risk a number of social privileges. Country girls have nothing to lose and only financial remuneration to gain. However, though their farm labor makes them more attractive than town girls, they will never be completely accepted.

The country girls do not really threaten the social order because social pressures prove stronger than male desire. While their presence does stir things up somewhat, the status quo inevitably triumphs.