The “space” in Willa Cather’s Fictions


Willa Cather is famous for a series of Nebraska fictions, in which it depicts the prairie landscape and the pioneers' lives in the American west. Much attention has been paid to natures descriptions, especially for the American west prairie landscape in her fictions. However, Cheryll Glotfelty points out that "although Cather's most famous work takes place in thinly populated western landscape, she chose to live in New York city, and in fact, set several of her works in cities". The purpose of this paper is to make an analysis on "space" in Cather's fictions. I argue that the "space" plays an important role in Cather's fictions, in a sense, Cather stresses the characters' space perceptions to the surrounding environment, not only in American west prairies, but also in modern cities. I attempt to discuss the theme from three aspects: At first, I argue that Cather's life experiences on space influence her writing, for example, her move with her family to Nebraska at the age of nine, her young editor life in New York , and the visit to Southeast America during her mid-life. Secondly, I argue that the train is an important metaphor in fiction. Cather intentionally depicts the trains to enlarge the space form in fiction. As modern transportation, at one hand, trains are used as the primary mode of transport between countries and cities, on the other hand, trains enlarge a person's world and man's sense of space. Then, I interpret how the characters perceive the surrounding environment by five senses to establish their identities in fiction.

Author Information
Fangyuan Xi, Tohoku University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: LibrAsia2013
Stream: Literature

This paper is part of the LibrAsia2013 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Xi F. (2013) The “space” in Willa Cather’s Fictions ISSN: 2186-2281 – The Asian Conference on Literature and Librarianship 2013 – Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon