Hello Class

Well,
Here is my first post.
I hope I am doing this correctly.
See you guys next week and have a safe weekend!
-Samka Aljukic

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15 thoughts on “Hello Class

  1. Here is my post, found on page 33, “I had killed a big snake — I was now a big fellow.” This quote made me wonder, would he have consider himself a “big fellow” if he’d killed the snake alone (without the presence of Antonia) ? In other words, did the killing of the snake make he feel proud, or was it Antonia’s praises and approval?

    • “Subsequent experiences with rattlesnakes taught me that my first encounter was fortunate in circumstance.” This tells me that Jim has probably encountered worse rattlesnakes throughout his life. He said he was lucky because the snake he encountered may have been substantial in size, but he was also old and lazy. “So in reality it was a mock adventure; the game was fixed for me by chance, as it probably was for many a dragon-slayer.” I don’t think Jim would have taken on the rattlesnake if he couldn’t kill it even with Antonia standing there. He was proud that he killed the snake because everyone came to see it (not just Antonia); although he never stopped Antonia from praising him. He was proud of this too.
      Erika K.

      • “She went on in this strain until I began to think that I had longed for this opportunity, and had hailed it with joy.”

        The above passage lends to the idea of Antonia having substantial influence on the particular feeling(s) Jim experienced in the immediate moments that followed the killing. Jim specifically credits Antonia’s persistant adulation as having heightened the mix of emotions he felt – pride, joy, fear, etc.

        Just as we see Jim attribute the feelings involved in the aftermath to Antonia, we do not previously see him attribute any sort of initial motivation to Antonia’s presence or to their reversed roles. The act of killing the snake could have subconsciously been a result of his relationship with Antonia (and the listed passage may indicate just that), but never does he mention, while in the moment, a desire to kill the snake for Antonia.

        In short, he likely did it for both himself and his relationship with Antonia.

        Andrew Doughty

    • It’s important to remember that just before we get the account of Jim “slaying” the 24 year-old (!) rattle snake, he mentioned that until that moment, Antonia kind of looked down upon him, and talked to him in a certain tone. This could have made Jim uncomfortable or upset for two reasons: First, it could have been because she was a girl. This was still a time, that no matter what age, women weren’t exactly equal to men. While Jim was very young, I think he understood the emasculating feeling that accompanied Antonia’s attitude toward him. Second, I think maybe Jim just expected a certain level of respect, because while he and Antonia were both technically strangers in a strange land, she was still the “true” foreigner. So to some account, I think Jim realized, once he was dragging that snake behind him, he was finally in the position he was supposed to be in––like he had proven himself. If I had killed a five foot snake when I was a little boy, I would have marched around like a king, so I don’t necessarily think Antonia needed to be present for him to feel like he had “arrived.” I do however think that on a personal level, a shift occurred between him and Tony, as he did kill the thing without any help (or warning) from her.

  2. I think both. Also, Otto Fuchs is a character that Jim looks up to quite a bit. And to have a man like Otto say, “Gosh! I wouldn’t want to do any business with that fellow, myself, unless I had a fence-post along,” showed Jim that he was very impressed by his bravery and strength. Not only that, but neighbors were coming just to see the snake hanging on the fence. Everybody was impressed!

  3. In response to the concern about Jim feeling proud about his kill because of Antonia, I think she helped stroke his ego. Also, it seemed to me he didn’t think anything of killing the snake at first because it was instinct to protect himself. I believe Antonia added the feeling of pride, she was the on after all to suggest they take it back and show everyone.

  4. Jim’s first encounter with the snake, one Cather tells us was old, with very little fight left in him, is very interesting to me. The snake represents a challenge or an obstacle for Jim, who was still just a boy in his first year on the frontier. And although he was successful in killing the oversized monster, the fact that the narrator makes mention of future encounters with snakes that did not go as well is crucial. For readers, the lesson is very simple; there will be many challenges that rise up to meet us, some larger than others. It is important to meet them with a fighting spirit, or in Jim’s case a shovel, but it is also important to know that we will not always emerge as the victor. Although I will be rooting for him as the book continues, I cannot fight the feeling that a bigger snake is waiting for the Burden’s as the story goes on.

    Brenden

  5. Great posts all. Masculinity, as one of the platforms of Jim’s “identity,” is always necessarily “spectatorial” or “performative.” It has to have a witness. It’s a source of validation going back to the old heroic ideologies about manhood (which are always “culturally constructed”). But we’ll talk more about such “deep” topics down the road. And I’m thinking Jim just got lucky here. The snake had aged and, for many years, had not had anything to test it, to keep it sharp. Cather will always favor a version of life lived under some form of duress as making us keener, sharper. We should never become complacent or acquiesce because, like the dead snake slung over the fence, history is always on the march.

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