Create an Argument for Using the Best AP Prompt

In 4-6 sentences (of Standard English), make an argument for the best AP Prompt that illuminates the most profound literary qualities of Cather’s novel, My Antonia. If someone else has claimed the same prompt that you had in mind, then write another perspective to that argument. Profound topics elicit complex responses. Here is a copy of the document: Open-ended Questions for Advanced Placement Literature, 1970-2008


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11 Responses to Create an Argument for Using the Best AP Prompt

  1. Denny Smythe says:

    The 1970 AP essay question would be the best-fit topic to choose from when discussing Willa Cather’s My Ántonia. This topic adresses Ántonia’s personality changes depending on the standards of the current society she is in. In this novel she begins in her homeland, which she often reminisces about, then is brought abruptly to an American farm with extremely different social standards then she is used to; thirdly Ántonia must learn the social standards of a town and a “hired-girl” aspect of life, until lastly she is brought back to a farm, where the social standards there have become most natural and normal to her. The consistent change in scenery and society affects Ántonia’s life greatly, and this topic helps demonstrate the many ways in which Ántonia’s character responds, learns, and thrives from each different situation.

  2. Jillian Haywood says:

    The most effective essay on Willa Cather’s My Ántonia would come from a response to the AP essay prompt from 1991. This prompt leads the writer to discuss the differences in social standards of the country and town and the characters’ varying actions as a result of their location. This prompt allows one to fully explore several major themes of the novel including gender roles, social status, and the process of maturing as the characters move between the country and the town. Through the characters’ desire to return to the country, the reader is able to see their true values. Overall, this prompt is the best fit for this novel because it allows for one to write about the themes of the novel and how they relate to two of the distinct locations.

  3. Jackie Nicoletti says:

    The 2003 (form B) AP essay question based on depicting characters caught between colliding cultures would be the most accurate portrayal of Willa Cather’s My Ántonia. This essay question can elaborately relate to many immigrant characters who make up the majority of the characters in the novel. My Ántonia creates a common portrait of the many hardships that immigrants faced when their world collided with the American culture. These hardships include intense homesickness, trouble speaking English, new and unfamiliar environments (such as living on a farm for the first time), and most importantly, battling the moral standards and harsh judgements of the American settlers in order to fit in with the economic and cultural mainstream in Black Hawk. Overall, this prompt is the best fit in order to effectively investigate the significance of the cultural collision and Ántonia’s initial response and eventual adjustment to her new life in America as a “hired girl.”

  4. Peter Derby says:

    The best AP Prompt that illustrates the literary qualities of Willa Cather’s Ántonia is the 1970 essay question. The question illuminates the standards of Antonia’s society as well as the manner she responds to these standards that affected her. Ántonia is the perfect example of a character from a work of literary merit that has to get used to the changes of her society’s standards. She moves from her homeland to an American farm that has completely different societal standards that challenge her to become familiar with these new standards. Due to these societal changes Ántonia has to respond to these new standards over the course of the novel, which she does towards the end of novel as she becomes more familiar with American life in order to be successful. The prompt creates a unique amalgam of her struggles in every society and the actions she takes to respond to these different societies.

  5. Beanie O'Shea says:

    When looking back on My Ántonia one does not think of the few and far between scenes of violence, nonetheless each gruesome scene carries a significant amount of weight in that each represents a passionate ending serving almost as a vision for the future of the hopelessly romantic characters leading the novel as well as a lesson in the worth of life. The 1982 AP essay prompt addresses the idea that “no scene of violence exists for its own sake”, causing further thought into Willa Cather’s carefully placed grisly scenes. The most pungent scenes come to mind immediately: Mr. Shimerdas death, the gruesome wolf attack in Russia, and the murder in the Cutter family. The scenes serve respectively as a precarious vision of the future for Ántonia’s and perhaps even Jim’s lost soul in a new land, a foreshadowing of the romantic idea that Ántonia would be thrown to the wolves and it would be up to Jim to either follow her or live in solitude, and a comparison of a couple not meant to be and the consequences of this. These violent actions are not included to bring down the mood, but rather to enhance the truth of the difficulty of life and in doing so increase the validity of the miracle that is life, all the while keeping with the romantic motif of the novel.

  6. Sage Maggi says:

    My Antonia is a look into memories from the past told by Jim Burden, and although the story starts out as a remembrance, the reader then understands some of the psychological issues that Jim has dealt with and how they connect back to Antonia. The 2007 AP prompt would best work for My Antonia because Antonia and the time Jim had with her are nostalgia, which the prompt suggests affects the values, attitudes, and activities of a character. The life that Jim speaks of, although altered by other outside interests, is based around his time with Antonia and his actions around her and her family. From the moment they met, Antonia left her presence in Jim’s life and their final goodbyes showed that Jim would remember Antonia affected him in a positive light.

  7. Nate Keyes says:

    My Ántonia is a novel that analyzes the memories of Jim Burden, beginning with the first time he laid eyes on Ántonia and ending with him accepting the fact that he and Ántonia will never get married. Therefore, the 1996 AP question would be the best fitting for this novel because it asks for a happy ending. Although when this question asks for a happy ending, it is specifically not looking for a cliché marriage ending, but rather an ending where a character has some sort of spiritual reassessment or moral reconciliation with themselves. The ending of this novel is just about a perfect fit for this question because instead of Jim and Ántonia getting married and living happily ever after, Jim is brought back to reality and finally realizes that his memories with Ántonia played a big role in his life. Even though everything is now just memories, he understands that despite everything working out perfectly, his past is a significant aspect of his life and that Ántonia actually affected him in a gratifying way.

  8. Chad Malcolm says:

    The 2010 Form B essay is the most effective to choose when discussing the book “My Ántonia” by Willa Cather. The essay prompt requires the reader to discuss the importance of “home” to a central character in a novel. This prompt is perfect for My Ántonia because throughout the novel, Jim romanticizes the Nebraskan countryside. Nebraska represents something that Jim can physically escape from, but is unable to emotionally because of his bonds with his grandparents, Ántonia, and the rest of the Shimerda family. His bond with his home creates a feeling of nostalgia that resonates throughout the novel that intensifies when he visits his home after twenty years of being away.

  9. Patrick Siripakorn says:

    Primarily revolving around the topic of nostalgia, the novel “My Ántonia” by Willa Cather, is told in retrospect through the protagonist, Jim Burden. This novel best suits the 2007 AP prompt since it not only distinguishes and explicates Jim and Ántonia’s past, but also vividly illustrates how their past affects them in the present. Now a successful lawyer, Jim still shows an overt desire to return to the past by recalling the past about Ántonia, his dear childhood friend. More over, Ántonia’s desire to go back to Bohemia and Jim’s longing to go back to Nebraska, exemplifies the impossibility of their aspirations while also reflecting the author’s own desire to go back to Nebraska. The novel’s title also portrays an extremely significant part of the character’s identity and how they relate to each other, so Ántonia is not just any Ántonia, according to Jim, she is “My Ántonia”. Although Jim has been deeply influenced by the people around him, he later on realizes the fact that, through the chronicles of stories about him and Ántonia, he is just writing about his own personal feelings. Despite Jim and Ántonia taking a different path in life in the end, the novel ends in a much happier note with Jim realizing how Ántonia affected his life in a heartening way.

  10. The countryside is one of the only significant settings in the novel “My Antonia” by Willa Cather. Because of this, the 2004 AP prompt best suits the novel because it asks to explain the significance of the “country” setting in a work of literary merit. The frontier not only shapes the mindsets of the narrator Jim and his close friend Antonia, it shifts the mindset of everyone in America during this time period. It helps to give Jim chances to prove himself as a man, such as when he and Antonia find a large snake, and also helps shape Antonia and the other working girls into a strong female characters who were determined to fend for themselves expanding territory. The country also portrays the emotions of Jim as he narrates the story. We can tell by the language he uses to describe the world around him the feelings that he does not directly articulate. Since almost the entire book takes place in the countryside, describing the setting of the story can give us a deeper insight into the thoughts and lifestyles of the people who live there.

  11. After reading Willa Carther’s My Antonia, the 1994 AP prompt proves to be the most accurate choice. Although Mr. Shimerda rarely appears in Carther’s novel, his presence holds a strong significance to the plot and his influence on the other characters in the work. Before the tragic event of his suicide, Mr. Shimerda provided Jim with a model of a strong father figure when he had nowhere to turn. His character also functions as an example of different social standards and how he must become accustomed to the new environment of Black Hawk Nebraska. Finally, his character highlights the religious and cultural divides of an immigrant family and the farmers from Nebraska. Because the scenes involving this character are so infrequent, this prompt allows the reader to analyze the impact he makes on the events that take place and the protagonists in the book.

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