Who Has Seen the Wind

Who Has Seen the Wind

  • Submitted By: Jnahi476
  • Date Submitted: 12/19/2013 10:47 AM
  • Category: English
  • Words: 1502
  • Page: 7
  • Views: 68

Jim Burden is one of the great narrators in literature. As a big city attorney, he recounts the story of growing up on the plains of Nebraska with Àntonia Shimerda. Jim’s Virginia parents have died, leaving his Nebraskan grandparents the responsibility of raising a ten-year old boy. Jim arrives in Black Hawk, Nebraska on a train also carrying the Shimerdas. The beauty of this initial connection between Jim and Àntonia, four years his elder, is a beautiful part of the overall structure of Cather’s first “masterpiece.” The star, of course, is not Jim, but Àntonia who, even after losing her youthful beauty, has “that something which fires the imagination” and which can “stop one’s breath for a moment by a look or a gesture that somehow reveal[s] the meaning of common things.” Cather does not just tell us this. Throughout My Àntonia, she demonstrates this fact in brilliantly conceived vignettes. As counterweight (or alter ego) to the brilliant Àntonia, Cather gives us the equally compelling prairie of the western United States. Cather’s concluding novel in her “prairie trilogy” was, as much as anything else, “a sort of love story of the country”, as her friend Edith Lewis described it.

W.O. Mitchell brought his equally intense passion for the Canadian prairie to Who Has Seen the Wind. The novel is set several decades later, in the 1930s and, in place of Jim Burden, Mitchell provides Brian O’Connal, a precocious menace and the protagonist. However, Brian does not narrate the book from the perspective of age as does Jim. In fact, Brian does not narrate at all, but is merely the character over whose shoulder we initially, and most often, peer.

Brian at the moment was in the breakfast-room. He sat under the table at the window, imagining himself an ant deep in a dark cave. Ants, he decided, saw things tiny and grass-coloured, and his father and mother would never know about it. He hated his mother and his father and his grandmother for spending so much time with...

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