This assignment asks you to compare two stories that tell us a great
deal about life on the Great Plains in the late 19th century. Pretty-shield was a Crow medicine woman who recalled her life to Frank Linderman, a white writer who wrote ethnographic narratives of Plains Indians' cultures. Ántonia Shimerda, the central character in Willa Cather's My Ántonia, was purely a figment of the author's imagination. Nevertheless, since the author drew much of her story from her own experience growing up on the Nebraska prairies in the 1880s, the novel reads much like a personal memoir. Your task is to compare the landscapes described in the books and think about how Antonía and Pretty Shield's relationship to the land was different (or similar). How were their lives similar? How were they different? Pick a single theme - or point of comparison -- and explore their similarities and differences in great depth. Make sure to address how their histories - or broader, social changes and events - shaped the conditions of their lives in specific ways. Do not simply "list" how they were similar and how they were different. How does comparing these stories tell us something important about the lives of ordinary people on the Great Plains in the late 19th century? How did race and ethnicity shape their experience?
Possible themes: (you may pick your own theme - but, please discuss it with me before you begin)
Family and or kinship
The natural world/environment
Making a living on the land
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