“ Consider the importance of nostalgia in the lives of Cather’s characters. When does nostalgia seem to be more of a sickness than just a passing emotion in the novel?”

“The play is memory. Being a memory play, it is dimly lighted, it is sentimental, it is not realistic. In memory everything seems to happen to music.” - from “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams

Jim’s listening to some rather delightful music, I think it’s called Things Were Much Better Then, Oh, I Remember When... Or maybe it’s Yesterday, everyone seems to do Beatles’ covers these days.

He’s playing it rather loudly, I’ll talk, but I don’t think that he can hear me, or anyone else for the matter.

It’s familiar music, he has played it before, once upon a time, but, have you ever noticed how different listening to music and playing it are? I cannot remember each mistake I have made, measure by measure. I have a feeling that if I yell loud enough at Jim, he will just sing, “I can’t here you! La la di da di da.”

Did I say he’s playing music? No, no, he’s writing a book, but it’s all the same, or rather different. He’s been there before, played it himself, but when the pen hits the paper, the notes don’t come out the same.

Oh, I get it, gee. He’s got a case of nostalgia. And I made it sound like a disease or something. Silly me.

If you writing about when life was good, the chances are that life isn’t good anymore. The introduction points this out in “My Antonia,” and I think that perhaps those two pages are the most important in the book.

It establishes the fact that Jim isn’t happy. It says that Jim wrote a book. Jim names the book after a girl he had very little to do with after he got into college. Oh, but better yet, he affixes a possessive pronoun to it. This clearly expresses that the following text is more or less a romantic version of the truth. It seems quite possible that Jim is more alive in his “past” than the present. He seems so happy, too. He tries so hard to give an illusion.

In his book he is happy. Little Jim’s Adventures in the Developing US! Watch as little Jim befriends Antonia! See Lil’ Jim kill snakes! Everything happens to music!

The cymbals clash. Mr. Shimrada’s dead. Bang.

He missed the old country. He had a case of nostalgia.

Everything's all right, hush child don’ t cry, he lives on in spirit and everyone continues on so that Lil’ Jim faces no pain.

No pain. That seemed to me to be the overwhelming overtone of the first section. It would seem that Jim, in writing the book, wished to create his own fantasy so that he could live a wish. No Pain.

How well do you remember your childhood? Is it with vivid detail and wonderful descriptions? Or is it with some vague spots... some things that you can’t quite recall... Well, then, let me assure you, it’s perfect material for a midlife crisis.. I mean book, because, you can fill in the blanks. Treat it as a coloring book. As a Mad Libs.

So, with cute crayon written sections, Jim lives a great childhood.

Then what happens?

As the book goes on, the sections become mysteriously shorter and shorter as the book comes nearer to the present. By far, the most vivid images from the book come from the first two sections. After that the book becomes colder, less radiant. Bad things seem to happen. The book summarizes rather than relives events.

Consider: The fates of all the characters are brief. Lena goes on to live a life with unclear intentions, unable to decide whether she is in love, and unable to commit. Tiny Soderball becomes wealthy in the material sense, but shows no growth beyond that. Antonia gets stood up and has a bastard child, then gets married to a man who was already in love with The City.

Recent events are hard to sugar coat. There is only so much that you can lie to yourself about.

Jim writes to reimagine a life in a time that he was happier, when everything worked out so well, but as the book progresses it becomes more apparent that the lackluster present is not where he wants to be.

Jim writes with possessive pronouns.

Jim’s got a bad case of nostalgia.

I myself am in the business of collecting small realities, which is something else entirely.

Some song plays on in the backround.

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