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Perhaps the most directly conflicting characters in Catch- 22 and in My Antonia are Colonel Cathcart and Antonia. Both of these characters are ambitious and each sees a road that runs ahead toward something called success or wealth, but the roads that they see are constructed differently. Colonel Cathcart s road is paved with feathers in his cap and it is not cratered with black eyes. Antonia s road is paved with the results of hard work and it sometimes has potholes they are due to her inability to see the bad in others. The under pavings of the roads of the two people are quite different as well. Colonel Cathcart s road is built on a foundation of the unreasonable, and sometimes irrational, demands that he can place on those serving under him in order to please General Dreedle.
The constant in creases in the number of required missions and his planning of useless missions which he believes will demonstrate what a good job we are doing are all that this limited, insecure man can think of to form the foundation for his road. Antonia, on the other hand, builds her road on a base of an invincible pioneer spirit that is characterized by the generosity with which she trys to give Jim her ring and her compassion for the little green insect that will not survive the winter. Throughout the book, she demonstrates that while her road may have some potholes caused by her naivete, as with her disasterous romance with Larry Donovan, she has self-esteem and the ability to deal with whatever life has to offer. Thus, these two novels depict two people who are traveling on roads through life that could not be more different.
Colonel Cathcart s road is all about appearances with no regard for substance, while Antonia s road is so unconcerned with appearances that she allows the local photographer to display her illegitimate baby s picture in his shop window. Antonia s road is clearly the superior one; she becomes the strong mother of a large loving family. We can only imagine where Colonel Cathcart s road will lead.
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