Women throughout history have found ways to fend for themselves because they were constantly being degraded. In novels such as Sister Carrie by Theodore Dresier, and My Antonia by Willa Cather, who overcame many hardships throughout their lives. Carrie Meeber, from Sister Carrie, was a poor girl who went to Chicago from the Mid West. There she found men who gave her money and slaved after her, but she soon discovered a talent from which she became wealthy and famous. Antonia Shimerda, from My Antonia, emigrated from Bohemia to Nebraska with her family. She made her own money working in town, but still ended up marrying a farmer. Regardless of their living conditions, Carrie and Antonia fulfilled their need of happiness.
Carrie Meeber, an ordinary girl, has to deal with many atrocities to get to her high paid actress position. She left her hometown, Columbia City, to go to Chicago to live with her sister. When Carrie Meeber boarded the afternoon train for Chicago, her total outfit consisted of a small trunk, a cheap imitation alligator-skin satchel, a small lunch in a paper box, a yellow leather snap purse, containing her ticket, a scrap paper with her sister s address in Van Buren Street, and four dollars in money (Dreiser 7). This shows what deprived conditions she came from. In the early stages of her life she had to get a job as soon as she came to Chicago, because she lived with her sister in an apartment, and had to pay half the rent. Carrie s job at the textile company helped her out with the rent, but she got fired from that because she missed too many days of work. She struggled to get a new job, but she couldn t. The ironic part is that situation her life got better. Charlie, a man she met on the train to Chicago, bought her everything she ever dreamed about. He did this because he was in love with Carrie. But, Carrie fell in love with George, the owner of Fitzgerald and Moy s. When Charlie found this out he stopped giving her everything, where as George started to give her the whole lot more than Charlie. Since George had a family and wife, he and Carrie ran away to New York. In New York, George became bankrupt and therefore couldn t buy Carrie anything. While George was looking for a job, Carrie discovered a hidden talent. She was good at acting! She left George, and became a very successful actress who was very wealthy. This is how Carrie achieved her goal for happiness.
As Carrie Meeber, in Sister Carrie, Antonia Shimerda, from My Antonia, lived though tough times but did reach her happiness. After her family immigrated to Nebraska, they had to run their farm. The whole family had to work hard to make a decent living. This didn t let Antonia receive a good education, which would have helped her obtain a high-quality job. A shocking event occurred soon after the Shimerdas moved to Nebraska. Mr. Shimerda committed suicide, which affected Antonia s future. Old Mr. Shimerda is dead, and his family are in great distress. (Cather 64) This foreshadows the mayhems Antonia will have to face. She had to work on the farm more because her father was no longer around to help out. After a while, Antonia goes into town where she got a good job. She became a housekeeper in Black Hawk, and a dancer at a local pavilion. She started getting paid and became independent, just like Carrie Meeber. There, Antionia met a railroad conductor, Larry Donovan, who became her fianc+ . The night of their wedding he jilted Antonia and went to Mexico. After this incident she became really confused and unhappy, so she decided to go back to her family. She started helping out her family working on the farm again. Mean while, she met another man, Cuzak. He was an immigrant from Bohemia, just like Antonia. They soon get married and raise a large family. Antonia attained her happiness through a family, unlike Carrie.
Both Carrie and Antonia reached their own way of happiness. Even though they reached their goal in different ways, both characters dealt with many adversities. Antonia fell in love with Cuzak, and started a family with him, which made her happy. Where as, Carrie became a well-known actress and an opulent women, which bought her items and made her happy. Carrie reached happiness with money, while Antonia reached it with a family. Women have usually hidden in the shadows of men. In such novels as Sister Carrie and My Antonia, the authors have showed us that women are capable of reaching their own happiness.
Cather, Willa. My Antonia. Houghton Mifflin: Boston, 1949
Dreiser, Theodore. Sister Carrie. Robert Bentley: Massachusetts, 1965