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The Ideal West Prairie-An Analysis of Willa Cather’s Regional Concept

Author: SunZuo
Tutor: ZhangYing
School: Northeast Normal University
Course: English Language and Literature
Keywords: Willa Cather the regional concept the theme of retrieval the pioneer spirits multiculture
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2011
Downloads: 55
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Willa Cather (1873– 1947) is one of the most outstanding writers of the United States in the 20th century. The themes of Willa Cather’s works are profound, the genres are wide and her novels has the rich flavour of life. Willa Cather’s works can be categorized mainly into four kinds: the pioneer novels (or the frontier novels) which are about the pioneers in the American West; the novels which reflect the life and growth of artists; the novels in which she recalls her childhood in Nebraska. The last kind of her books are legends based on stories on the prairie. Willa Cather moved to Nebraska with her family at the age of nine, the sight and scene of the prairie and the noble virtues of the West pioneers have profound influence on her and become the prominent factors affecting her regional concept.As a writer, Willa Cather’s works have aroused wide attention all the time and are the essential subjects to critics. There are interpretations of her and her books from various perspectives. Willa Cather is regarded as a realist writer, a modernist writer, or a romantic writer. Some argue that she is a regional writer and analyse the regional color in her works. But it is rare for people to deal with her regional concept. So this thesis analyses Willa Cather’s regional concept from studying O Pioneers!, My Antonia and Neighbour Rosicky. In this thesis, the regional concept is defined as one’s outlook on life or values that is affected by the humanistic characteristics and geographical features of a certain place.There are six sections in this thesis. The Introduction briefly introduces Willa Cather, gives a brief account of O Pioneers!, My Antonia and Neighbour Rosicky and makes a relevant literature review. Chapter One deals with the reasons for the formation of Willa Cather’s regional concept; Chapter Two deals with her regional concept reflected in the themes. Willa Cather eulogizes the retrieval to the traditional spiritual world in the West, exalts the pioneer spirit, on the other hand she is contradictory between the modern civilization and traditions. Chapter Three deals with the regional concept reflected in the characters. After interpretation of the three protagonists and other characters in the three novels, such conclusions can be drawn: the protagonists in Cather’s novels are different from Victorian women and different from protagonists in traditional western fictions meanwhile they show their talent of love and optimism. Chapter Four deals with the regional concept reflected in her cultural values. There is a multicultural feature in Willa Cather’s regional concept. We can see this feature in the fact that her regional concept is affected by the culture of minority races, such as the African American culture and the Indian culture. Then a Conclusion is drawn.

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