Create a Compelling Argument

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 Exam.


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9 Responses to Create a Compelling Argument

  1. annawilson17 says:

    The AP prompt from 2006 asks the essay writer to analyze how a country setting functions in the novel. The community of rural Nebraska plays an important role in Cather’s My Antonia, revealing to the reader cultural norms and values. The way these people lived reveals more to the reader than just direct characterization, drawing connections between a prairie dog town and the country settlements. It would be interesting to talk about the implications of the sod houses, rolling red grass, wildlife, and rural community. Setting is a very important literary device in My Antonia, and this prompt would allow us to explore it.

  2. 17leh says:

    The 1982 prompt asks for an analysis of acts of violence within a work. So far in Cather’s My Antonia there are have been several violent scenes, including Mr. Shimerda’s death, Jake and Ambrosch’s fight, and Jim killing the big snake. All of these highlight important plots within the story; the difficult life of the immigrant family, the tension between Jim’s family and the Shimerdas, and Jim’s coming of age and attempts to prove himself to Antonia. These scenes are necessary and deserve close analysis.

  3. cdonohue742 says:

    Willa Cather, author of My Antonia, was far from a conventional woman of her time period. Just trying to make it into the writing world was difficult enough for a woman, but in addition to this, Cather also struggled with being a homosexual in this time period. But rather than mourning about her disadvantages, she used them as her inspiration and channeled a lot of these adversities into her story My Antonia. Because of this unique basis for the story, the 1987 prompt lends itself perfectly to what Cather was probably aiming for when she wrote the story: advocating a political change. There have been many instances throughout what we have read so far where Cather highlights gender inequalities, and it is through character’s responses to this that she effectively communicates the change she wants to see. In addition to advocating an advance in woman’s rights, she uses the Bohemians and other immigrant families to advocate a change in the attitudes of Americans towards foreigners, thus potentially eliciting a multi-faceted response for this intriguing topic.

  4. kirstikokko says:

    The AP prompt from 2006 form B talks about the physical journey a character takes, and the role that this plays in their lives. In My Antonia, the characters are influenced by the journeys they take as each journey shapes them into the person they will become. Antonia’s family moves across the world from the Czech, and this physical change transformed their whole lives placing them in a completely different culture. They had to adjust to a whole new lifestyle, and they were not prepared for the path their life would take having a hard time adjusting to country life after living in a city. Jim goes on a physical journey too when he moves first to the country inNebraska to live with his grandparents on their farm, and then later moves into Black Hawk the town. These changes are important, as they help shape his character. He learns to farm and work and be a man, but in the town he learns to be a boy by being around kids his age and going to school. The physical journeys the characters take in this book impact and shape their lives.

  5. ameliahern says:

    The 1992 prompt asks the student to write about how a protagonist’s friend, or a confidante, functions in the work as a whole. This prompt works perfectly with Willa Cather’s My Antonia because Jim’s relationship with Antonia is very important in the story. The 2 of them end up moving to the prairie at the same time; Jim to his grandparents’ house because his parents died, and Antonia with her Bohemian immigrant family. They come from very different backgrounds but they quickly become friends. Antonia does not know any English when she first arrives, and Jim tutors her. The two of them go on adventures and explore the prairie together. Antonia is extremely important to the story because she helps Jim develop into the person that he becomes. Along with all of the fun times, they experience many hardships together, including the suicide of Antonia’s father. She helps him grow up, and whether he likes to admit it or not he looks up to her. Jim also learns a lot from her family with their different cultural background. Antonia serves many functions in Jim’s life in the novel My Antonia, and this prompt allows the readers to further explore the significance of her character.

  6. mittelmand says:

    In the 2013 AP prompt, the writer is asked to find a specific moment in a coming-of-age novel that is pivotal in the psychological or moral development of the protagonist. This essay prompt truly seems to fit with the novel not only because it happens to be a coming of age story, but it also included a few option as to what that specific moment could be. So far, the most compelling argument could be that when Antonia’s father dies this has a very large impact on her, but as well as Jim. Having a personal connection to this feeling, both his parents have died, the initial moment of him and Antonia leaves him speechless. This moment changes the interactions between the two into a more mature relationship, which fits in perfectly with the coming-of-age theme found throughout the text.

  7. weman008 says:

    The 1970 AP prompt is about looking at the societal standards within a work and how the characters react to the standards. My Antonia, being a work of modernism displays progressive outlooks on societal standards of the time, focusing mainly on gender stereotypes. This has been shown several times, where Jim was only seen as a “man” after killing a snake, or how people saw the Antonia should not have been working outside as she was a girl. These cultural norms played a big impact of the characters and are certainly important in their analysis.

  8. 17bmh says:

    The 1995 AP prompt asks the reader to analyze how certain characters are alienated from their society and how it reveals the surrounding society’s moral values in a novel. In Cather’s My Ántonia, the Shimerdas are viewed as outsiders because they are Bohemians living in rural Nebraska; they are withdrawn from the American midwestern lifestyle. Although the Shimerdas are respected, there is underlying tension between them and the Americans; they appear almost lowly because of their lack of understanding of English and the American cutoms. This tension is highlighted by the refusal of Mr. Shimerda’s burial after his death, and especially brought to light after Jake and Ambrosch get into a fight. Although America is a seemingly friendly place, denizens of the free country are not as freely accepting as one might imagine.

  9. jasonlouro7 says:

    The Form B prompt from 2008 compares the ways writers discuss childhood, and asks the writer to choose a work and explain how the author’s perspective on childhood illuminates the work as a whole. Jim from “My Antonia” fits the prompt perfectly, as his childhood is the primary focus of the story. Àntonia serves as another example – her transition from childhood to womanhood reinforces her difficult upbringing. The prompt allows for a wide range of essay theses, giving the writer the freedom to interpret Cather’s attitude toward the coming of age of these two major characters.

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