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In her famous novel My ntonia, Willa Cather explores and develops issues of identity in a variety of ways. As well as illustrating the divide between various ethnic groups, Cather raises questions of gender identity and attempts to redefine Ameri

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  • Essay length: 1408 words
  • Submitted: 05/09/2009
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Explore some of the ways American Writers have raised and developed questions of identity (racial, ethnic, gender, sexual etc.) Refer in detail to any ONE OR MORE texts.

In her famous novel "My Ántonia", Willa Cather explores and develops issues of identity in a variety of ways. As well as illustrating the divide between various ethnic groups, Cather raises questions of gender identity and attempts to redefine American social norms regarding these identities.

A strong underlying theme of the novel is the struggle to define gender identities. Gelfant (1971) described the novel as a "drama of distorted sexuality". Throughout the novel, Jim seems to battle somewhat between what he considers to be the socially normal way for men and women to act within society, and the reality that exists. As Cather made clear in her early essays, as an author she was highly aware of the way our culture assigns roles or positions to respective sexes. With this in mind, it can be said that she incorporates these assumptions into her work, resulting in heightened tension within "My Ántonia". Her idea seems to point strongly towards the idea of men as "subject" and women as "object".

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