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An In-Depth Look on the Story Neighbour Rosicky

The main character in the story was Anton Rosicky. He was a dear father to six children and a good husband to his wife Mary. The story began with his appointment with the town’s doctor, Dr. Ed. The reader is introduced to Anton Rosicky’s heart condition that could worsen if he did not follow the doctor’s advice, which was to quit farm work or heavy chores which could strain his heart all the more. He has always been a family man, he raised his children well and he treated his wife fairly.

He was a man who felt his usefulness through his work. The warmth and goodness that emanates from him, which he pours to his family, finds a way to reverberate even to his neighbors. Theirs is a family that is close to being an ideal one, which was a testament that came from the doctor. Though they were seen to be always behind, they found means on how to make their plight lighter for everyone to bear.

The narrator of the story may even suggest that they do not prioritize material gain but rather, the most important entity for them is their family, an example of which is the part where they refused to sell their cream and told the buyer that they would rather feed their children first than to go off hungry just so they could put something in the bank. As the story progressed, it was presented to the reader that his eldest son, Rudolph, has just gotten married to an American city girl named Polly.

Rosicky found himself extremely fond of his daughter-in-law and he grew quite concerned that his eldest son’s wife was getting lonesome because she is having a hard time adjusting to the life of a farmer’s wife in the country. Being a city lad himself during his early years, he understood what it must be like for somebody who grew accustomed to the busy flow of the city to suddenly find one’s self thrown into the quiet pace of country life. The main plight of the main character, Rosicky, was the shaky start of his eldest son’s marriage.

He was afraid that Rudolph might quit farming due to the discontent of his wife and find work in the factories somewhere in the city. Polly was not a vain woman, but she was not used to the predicaments that come to a farmer’s wife when the odds were not in their favor. Rosicky was worried that Rudolph, in order to please his wife, would leave the farm and would set off to work at railroads or at a packing house. Anton Rosicky would have flashbacks about his early years when times were tough for him. Sitting on his corner, in front of the window, he would recall the times he was in London.

He went to London to search for work but since his cousin, who was his only connection in the city, had embarked to America, he found himself homeless and penniless. To add more to his dilemma, he could not understand English since the only language he knew was his mother tongue, Czech. He knew what it felt like to grow hungry; to work hard but still come up short. He did not want his children to experience what he had experienced in the city being enslaved to a boss and to work. He was also worried that he and his wife did not prepare their children for the city where cruel, scheming people hang around.

For Rosicky, being a worker in the city would be the end for his eldest son. He thought that having one’s own land to till and to plant on is way better that being employed and eventually enslaved in the city. He thought about ways on how to change Rudolph’s mind about the hard times he is experiencing at farming. He pondered how he could tell his son that the worst time for a farmer is the equivalent of a better time for a city lad. Rudolph and Polly’s house sits across Rosicky’s with a big alfalfa field in between the two houses.

The big alfalfa field could perhaps represent the relationships that are intertwined between the two houses. It was mentioned in the story that though Polly was fond of Rudolph’s father, she was having quite a hard time relating with Rudolph’s mother, Mary. Polly was easily irritated with Mrs. Rosicky as compared to her amiable rapport with Mr. Rosicky. Rudolph also noticed that Polly’s tone hinted that it was remarkable that his brothers did have nice manners, quite contrary to the general impression of rough farm boys. These somehow strained relationships might be what the thistles in the alfalfa field represent.

The thistles that have lodged into the green alfalfa field might also symbolically represent the slight but noticeable strain that is beginning to form in the marriage of Rudolph and Polly. Rosicky kept telling his boys to take them out for fear that the thistle’s seeds would root and take the alfalfa. However, his sons would pay no heed to their father’s concerns. They were more concerned with the work on the fields. This unexplained fear and Rosicky’s son’s indifference might symbolize the respective character’s outlook on their relationships with one another.

It could also mean that the main character has a wider perspective because he sees the whole picture and he is worried with what would happen to his family if they would let the thistle cultivate with the alfalfa. Even with his heart condition, Rosicky was determined to uproot the thistles and rake them off the alfalfa field when his eldest son went to town. This action of the main character probably represents his tenacity to uproot the strains in the relationships of his family and to save his eldest son’s marriage from its shaky start.

Rosicky uprooting the thistles might also stand for the ways he has come up with to enlighten the young couple. In the story, Rosicky came up with the idea of letting the young couple borrow the family car for a night to watch the movies. He took over the chores of his daughter-in-law and asked her to dress up prettily while he gave his son a silver dollar so his son could treat his wife to some sweets to invoke the feel of courtship in the couple’s relationship.

He also invited the couple over to supper the day before Christmas where he and his wife told anecdotes on how their family survived even through the tough times and hardships in the country. Rosicky’s anecdote about his Christmas in London, where the mistress of the house he was lodging in gave him a chunky piece of a goose to feast on though the family was financially crippled, seemed to have tugged the heartstrings of the young couple. In a way, the methods Rosicky has come up with seem to have their positive effect on the couple, and the positive effect resounded onto the whole household.

These methods that he has come up with were comparable to the way he uprooted and raked the Russian thistles pestering the alfalfa field. With the location of the alfalfa field, it could be a representation of a link of the two households. The big alfalfa field sits exactly between the two houses and for the field to be beleaguered with thistles would mean that the two households might find difficulty in meeting one another in the middle. If the thistles would be left untended, they might take over the whole field and it could block the passageway for the two families.

The reader may be hinted after finishing the story that the last undertaking of the main character was to uproot the thistles that disturb the quiet of their family. Right after the task was done, Rosicky felt the onset of a heart attack. The nursing of his daughter-in-law and his wife were not sufficient for him to recover. With his last act of kindness done, the main character departs just as he was about to go to bed. Earlier in the story, the author prepared the reader to what might happen to the main character by creating the setting of the graveyard near Rosicky’s house.

To find a graveyard look very pretty was somewhat peculiar, no matter how peaceful or picturesque it looked, except if the character was preparing himself for what was to come or for what was to happen to him. The optimistic thoughts and feelings of Rosicky towards the graveyard signified his sanguine viewpoint about his oncoming death or of death itself. It might also be possible that Rosicky knew he had not much time to live but made no fuss about it in order not to bother his family.

With his impending death in mind, this could be the reason for his need to repair the strains that he could see sprouting into the relationships of each of his family members. While he was contemplating in the graveyard, he might have resolved to help the members of his family that needed helping lest he might die soon. It might explain his eagerness to uproot the thistle from the alfalfa field, which also corresponds to the means he has come up with to save his daughter-in-law from loneliness and also to convince his son to persist on field work instead of finding employment in the city.

His frequent flashbacks on his earlier years might also contribute to the notion that he is nearing his death. He kept remembering how difficult it was to live in a big city with no money to buy for food and to live in a desolate shelter. He remembered the emptiness that he felt when he was in New York, trying to look for something that might take his emptiness away. It was while he was in New York that he realized he wanted to go back to farming, just as how his father and grandfather have done before him.

He become conscious that what he wanted was the simple life in the country, away from the city and its treacherous madmen. As he thought about all these things that happened to him earlier, he thought about his children and contemplated that he did not want them to undergo the suffering that he had felt when he was a lad in the city. He wanted them to persevere in farming instead of being a lowly employee in the city because he recognized the potential of a land that is one’s own.

For him, a land that is one’s own means life. He wanted to be sure that when he departs and leaves his family behind, they are taken cared for and are living harmoniously with one another, without any thistles growing in between them. So that when he finally lies on the piece of land where the cemetery was, the cemetery that he felt so at peace at, he might lie in peace knowing that everything and everyone is fine and well. Works Cited Cather, Willa. _Neighbour Rosicky_. N. p. : Creative Education, 1986

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