My Antonia

The Midwestern Landscapes of Willa Cather and Mary Austin 12th Grade

Many authors have been inspired to write by their environments, beautifully rendering their scenery with their words. Willa Cather and Mary Austin are two examples of such authors, who recreate the vast expanses of the Midwest's grassy fields and rolling hills. Cather and Austin were both Modernist authors, telling their stories with less concern for one connected plot and focusing more on developed prose and writing styles. Both Cather’s and Austin’s writing styles are characterized by long, periodic sentences and liberal usage of commas; however, Austin’s Land of Little Rain has a slightly more formal tone than Cather’s My Antonia, due to its non-fiction genre and lack of dialogue. While both authors recreate the landscapes in which their stories take place using visual imagery, Austin’s care in describing the types of flora and fauna of the Country of Lost Borders establishes Land of Little Rain’s setting more clearly and effectively than My Antonia’s, as Cather must focus both on the plot of protagonist Jim Burden’s memoir and on describing the setting of the novel while the bulk of Austin’s focus is on describing her surroundings. Because of this disparity, Austin's descriptions of the setting of her story are more...

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