The novel My Antonia by Willa Cather is an excellent depiction of life on the Nebraska prairies and the deep connection one can have with the people and place they grew up. The base of the novel is the narration by Jim Burden about his life and memories on the nebraska prairies with he people that he grew up with. Since that is the base of the book the themes of nostalgia and longing are present throughout the novel. The past is something which cannot be relived but stays with one throughout their lives. The theme of nostalgia plays an intricate role in how the lives of the characters are formed and remembered.
Right from the beginning the theme of nostalgia is introduced. When the topic of old times comes up Jim confesses that he has written down all of his memories about Antonia and these memories are the basis for the novel.
"He went into the next room, sat down at my desk and wrote across the face of the port folio "Antonia."" He frowned at this moment, then prefixed another word, making it "My Antonia."" That seemed to satisfy him,""(2). By marking the portfolio "My Antonia- instead of "Antonia- Jim is exhibiting how much Antonia is a part of him. She is part of his heart, his soul and his past. His memories of her and her life is just as much a story for his life.
"During that burning day when we were crossing Iowa, our talk kept returning to a central figure, a Bohemian girl whom we had both known long ago. More than any other person we remembered, this girl seemed to mean to us the country, the conditions, the whole adventure of our childhood,""(Cather 2).
This quote is a good representation of nostalgia and how Jim was very attached to .
Antonia. Many many years after he had moved away and seen Antonia his thoughts still turned to her. It is the deep connection he has with his past and the people involved with it. One of the ways that Jim makes a connection with Antonia is through his english lessons with her.