Create a Compelling Argument

Typical Sod House

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. Also think of your arguments here as an organic crystallization. It will be fun to read the overall thread when you are conscious of the argumentative threads of your classmates’ ideas. Here is a copy of the document: Open-ended Questions for Advanced Placement Literature:


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I am an English teacher working with great students at an independent school in Ct.
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11 Responses to Create a Compelling Argument

  1. katerookey says:

    The entire novel is Jim’s reflection on his youth and other past events. The 2007 prompt is a good fit for writing an essay on My Antonia because it asks writers to describe how a “character’s relationship to the past contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole”. Jim’s experiences in Nebraska as a child shaped who he is as an adult. His longing to return to these times is evident because now that he is off the farm, he has more admiration about his experiences there. Even when Jim visits Antonia’s house, he is suddenly struck with all the pleasant memories they had together and wants to relive them.

  2. Milan Ghosh says:

    The 1995 prompt discusses the insight that can be gained pertaining to a society’s values by recognizing characters who are alienated in this culture. In My Ántonia, Willa Cather describes the alienation of the “hired girls” by the townspeople to describe their prejudice against immigrants. This reveals the villagers’ fear of anything foreign and different so they demean them to make themselves feel better. The villagers are threatened by the “intelligence or cultivation” displayed by the foreigners, so they belittle them. The author also reveals Jim’s feelings of the townspeople’s attitude as “very stupid” to demonstrate to the reader that Jim does not conform to society’s myopic view and that he is strong enough to recognize the capabilities of the foreigners.

  3. Lexi Mnich says:

    I believe that the best and most interesting topic from the AP Prompts between 1970 and 2016 for Willa Cather’s My Antonia is the topic from 2004, Form B. Not only does the novel revolve around the idea that Jim had to immigrate across the country due to the death of his father, but his new life and the way he describes everything revolves around the PTSD that derived from this death. Although we do not get much insight into the death of Jim’s parents, we can conclude that it was very tragic and had a large effect on Jim’s life, which helps to illuminate the theme of the story about the hardships that immigrants have to undergo when they are in a new home. In addition, the death of Antonia’s father also helps to illuminate the meaning of the work as a whole because it has a very large effect on not only Antonia’s life, but also Jim. Therefore, I believe that the development of the theme of death in this novel is very important in illuminating the meaning of the work, and is a topic in which there are many directions to talk about.

  4. Juhi Rayonia says:

    I believe that the 1970 prompt is most suitable for Willa Cather’s My Ántonia. The prompt requires you to discuss the standards of the fictional society in the story and explain how a character reacts to these standards. This could be used for My Ántonia because the society that Jim lives in disapproves of the “hired girls” – Ántonia, Tiny, and Lena. However, Jim refuses to acknowledge these judgements and hangs out with them, anyway. Jim’s reaction to his society’s standards is a plausible example of the prompt’s requirements.

  5. Rishi Patel says:

    The free response question from 2003, Form B, is my favorite prompt to write about for My Ántonia. The prompt asks us to choose a character from the novel that was caught between two colliding cultures- national, regional, ethnic, religious, or institutional. I believe that Jim fits this prompt perfectly as Jim and his grandparents have a totally different lifestyle than that of the poorer country families, such as the Shimerda’s. I also think that you can talk about Jim’s response to the collision of his love of hanging out with the ‘hired’ girls and his grandparents’ desire to have him socialize more with children of his ‘status’. This prompt allows you to be able to write a lot about Jim, the main character, and so I believe this is the best prompt.

  6. Nick Vardakas says:

    The essay topic from 1985 is the best topic for My Ántonia. This prompt asks for a work of literary merit that produces a “healthy confusion of pleasure and disquietude.” This basically means a work of literary merit that creates some confusion on what to think of a character or plot event. My Ántonia fits this prompt in the area of Jim Burden’s dealings with what we view as “PTSD.” While it is not specifically stated or implied, there are a few key details and moments in the novel where Jim seems to be dealing with some form of “PTSD.” Post traumatic stress disorder is a disorder that often occurs in military veterans who experienced something horrific that cannot be erased from their memory. This affects the victim causing them to have flashbacks or panic attacks when something triggers their memory of an experience. Jim seems to deal with one of these panic attacks or fits of rage when he is fighting the snake. Jim is described to have turned “crazy” when he was fighting the snake. This “crazy” reaction was unlike Jim and seemed to come out of nowhere, leading us to believe that this was some form of flashback or “PTSD.” This is why the essay topic from 1985 is the best topic for My Ántonia.

  7. Jenna Polidoro says:

    Willa Cather’s novel My Antonia is essentially a reflection on the narrator’s (Jim) early life growing up in Nebraska. Therefore, I believe the best AP essay prompt for this novel is the prompt from 1986. The student is tasked with describing how the manipulation of time contributes to the effectiveness of the work as a whole. In Cather’s novel, the significance of events is better understood by Jim as an adult. In some places in the work the narrator even intrudes to provide information about how a situation ends or develops later in his life. This shows that time manipulation plays an important role in highlighting how significant certain aspects of the narrator’s childhood were in shaping his future.

  8. Max Shlafstein says:

    I think the AP essay topic from 2013, which describes for a “coming-of-age novel,” is best suited for the novel My Ántonia by Willa Cather. This prompt focuses on the development of a character from a young age to maturity, as Jim does throughout the novel. As the story progresses, Jim is able to form his own opinions about working immigrants and is not influenced by the negative thoughts of the townspeople. There are many “pivotal moments” during the novel that all contribute to the overall molding of Jim as the protagonist and I believe this will be an interesting essay topic to write about.

  9. Zoey Zheng says:

    In Willa Cather’s novel My Antonia, it is interesting that each book was set to happen in a new surroundings. The book one focus the story in the country side that Antonia first arrived and marks the beginning of her journey to find her own identity. While Antonia moves to the town in the second book, she has to face the attitude of the society and the social “common sense”. The different setting of the space creates and reflect the development of Antonia’s self identity when it face the community, race and culture in different settings. Thus, the prompt of 2006 is the most suitable to discuss the theme of self identity.

  10. Bailey Hyland says:

    The prompt that I like the most is the 1992 prompt that tells the writer to discuss and analyze the confidante that the antagonist deals with during the novel. In this novel, Jim seems to be lonely until he meets Antonia. In many ways she reached him the important things in life and the true meaning of handwork. Antonia being his confidante allows the reader to sees Jim’s original views as honest as possible. This prompt also forces the writer to think about the importance of the secondary characters and not just the antagonist like usual.

  11. Hattie Bauchiero says:

    I like the 2014 AP prompt. This prompt talks about how when a character sacrifices something, or someone, it determines their values. I think this would an applicable topic to discuss about Jim. Though Jim often thinks about when he and Antonia were and kids and is very nostalgic about those memories, he chooses to move past them and move on with his life. For example, Jim goes to visit Antonia before he goes to Harvard with Cleric. In this visit, Jim cannot help but think about the times they’ve shared and how great it would be to share more. However, Jim chooses to go to Harvard, and not stay with Antonia. He could have stayed, but sacrificed his feelings to continue with his schooling. This action of sacfrifice displays Jim’s value of education. Since this topic applicable to Jim, I believe it would be a good topic to write about.

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