Neighbor Rosicky by Willa Cather

Literary Response #3 In Willa Cather’s Neighbour Rosicky Polly is first introduced as the daughter of neighbor Rosicky. The story first describes Polly when Rosicky states, “Polly got lots of spunk, an she got some style, too. Das nice, for young folks to have some style” (Cather 1932). As the story advances, the reader becomes aware that Polly was raised in a more populated environment and has had to adjust to life on a farm. Polly has married Rosicky’s son Rudolph, so Rosicky has taken pains to aid in her adjustment to her new life. Compounding Polly’s interactions with Rosicky is the fact that she was born in American, while Rosicky is European. Polly had four other sisters and a came from a poor family. The story indicates that since Rudolph is a proud man, yet is struggling, one of the reasons his relationship with Polly has continued to function is because of Polly’s humble background. Even while Rudolph and Polly’s relationship has functioned, the story thematically returns to the question of her integration and interactions with Anton Rosicky and the rest of the family. Throughout the early portions of the story Polly exhibits a distance from Anton Rosicky. Although this distance is punctured by the moment when he visits to lend her and Rudolph the car, one realizes that she is slightly confused with her new family. This changes when Rosicky experiences a heart condition and Polly comes to his aid. In this instance, the story makes clear that she refers to him as father, where in the past she had only referred to him as Mr. Rosicky. After Polly is successful in aiding Rosicky she sits with him and they converse for a moment. It’s in this instance that she realizes Rosicky loves her more than anyone in the world. this is attributed to perhaps Rosicky having a gift for loving people. She then takes his hand and examines it. The story spends a lengthy paragraph of description on Rosicky’s hand, and afterwards indicating that Polly had an awakening while examining it. The text states, “Polly remembered that hour long afterwards. it had been like an awakening to her. It seemed to her that she had never learned so much about life from anything as from old Rosickys hand. It brought her to herself. it communicated some direct and untranslatable message” (Cather 1932). While the text doesn’t explicitly state what Polly’s awakening exactly is one can surmise a number of possibilities. Throughout Cather’s story there is considerable attention given to Rosicky’s experience living in London and New York and the hardships he faced. In a certain sense Polly’s experience of integrating into the Rosicky family, finding herself, and realizing true happiness are challenges that Rosicky faced during his lifetime. When Polly examines his hand, she is meditating on the experiences that have made Rosicky the loving person he has become. In this sense, Polly’s awakening is a spiritual realization that the true road to happiness is not exterior wealth, or the hustle of city life, but a deep connection of love and caring and a similar grasp of the purpose of existence that Rosicky, as exemplified through his hands, has come to grasp. ReferencesThe American Tradition in Literature, 12th Edition. Authors George Perkins and Barbara Perkins.