Neighbor Rosicky Essay

This essay has a total of 713 words and 10 pages.

Neighbor Rosicky

“Neighbor Rosicky”


Jill Kincer

ENG 242/ ASB 472

Critical Review

Facilitator: Keith Studebaker

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“Neighbor Rosicky” Critical Review

I am going to discuss the short story by Willa Cather, “Neighbor Rosicky”. I

will be doing such in the form of a critical review looking at such aspects of the

story as the summary, thesis with key passages, description of form and content,

followed by my personal response to the story.

“Neighbor Rosicky” is a short story of an old farmer, Anton Rosicky, reflecting

back on his life. Early in the story, when Anton Rosicky is in Doctor Burleigh’s

office, he learns that he has a bad heart and does not have long to live. He then returns

home, plunges into a chair, and begins to sew. While he sews, Rosicky lets his mind run

back over his life. He has many memorable experiences. Rosicky has lived in London,

New York, and now in Nebraska. Rosicky, formerly a tailor, now makes a living farming

with his children. Rudolph, Rosicky’s oldest son, has some trouble supporting his wife,

Polly. Rosicky makes many sacrifices to help Rudolph’s marriage stay together. He

loans the family car and gives some money to Rudolph, even though Rosicky is very poor

himself. Spring arrives, and his children are busy working the fields. When no one else

is around, Rosicky, disregarded his doctors orders, rakes some thistle plants out of one

of his alfalfa fields, but the work is too tough on his heart. Rosicky dies the next day.

Rosicky also has a wife, Mary, a daughter, Josephine, and another son, John, and three

other boys who were not named.

I believe that the central theme that was being conveyed in the story was that of land

ownership being the “American Dream”. Anton Rosicky is a Czech who experienced life

as an immigrant both in London and New York City and found both lacking. Only in his

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life on the farm in Nebraska does he find peace and fulfillment.

Rosicky had been a tailor in the Old Country and had immigrated first to London,

where he was miserable and poor. At age twenty he left London for New York, and for a

time he was happy there, becoming “a good workman” (Cather,310) and experiencing the

cultural life of the city, including opera and the ballet. As time goes on, however, he

becomes restless, yearning for “freedom and wide horizons.” Tellingly, his epiphany

occurs on the Fourth of July. Rosicky realizes that cities “built you in from the earth

itself, cemented you away from any contact with the ground. You lived in an unnatural

world, like the fish in an aquarium who were much more comfortable than they ever were
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