In the novel My Antonia by Willa Cather, the symbolism illustrates strength of spirit. First, the symbolism represents the strength or spirit that one finds within oneself. Second, the symbolism illustrates the strength that one draws from others. Lastly, the symbolism in the novel shows that one is able to find strength of spirit through one's connection with the land. .
The symbolism found within the novel shows that one is able to find strength of spirit from within oneself. For example, the character Lena Lingard can be viewed as a symbol of strength from within. Lena is one or the hired girls that the entire town of Black Hawk thought would fail. However, Lena's strong spirit helps her to rise above the opinions of those around her, and she becomes very successful as a dressmaker in Lincoln. Another example can be found within the character of Antonia Shimmerda. Antonia's family faces hardships during their first bitter, cold winter in Nebraska. Though her entire family is dragged down and depressed, Antonia finds strength from within herself to keep her light-hearted spirit. Therefore, the symbolism found within the characters of Lena and Antonia shows that one can find strength from within.
The symbolism within the novel shows that one is able to draw strength from others. To illustrate, Jim Burden finds strength within Antonia's eyes. Jim says, "they were big and warm and full or light, like the sun shining on brown pools in the wood." Jim finds his spirit is stronger when he looks into Antonia's eyes that are so full of life. To further illustrate, the image of Antonia's children bursting out of the cave into the light strengthens Jim's spirit by showing him an explosion of life. The symbolism of Antonia's eyes and the children's burst of energy show that a person can draw strength from the light of others. .
The symbolism in the novel also shows that one is able to draw strength from the land.