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My Ántonia

Willa Cather

Book I, Chapters VII-XIII

Introduction–Book I, Chapter VI

Book I, Chapters VII-XIII, page 2

page 1 of 3

“I never know you was so brave, Jim,” she went on comfortingly. “You is just like big mans. . . .”

(See Important Quotations Explained)

Summary: Chapter VII

One day, Ántonia and Jim ride Jim’s pony to Peter’s house to borrow a spade for Ambrosch, her older brother. On the way home, they stop to examine a group of prairie-dog holes. Suddenly, Ántonia spots an enormous snake and lets out a scream, which causes the snake to coil in their direction. She points at the snake and shouts at Jim in her native Bohemian. Jim turns around and sees the huge snake. He swiftly gathers his wits and uses the spade to bludgeon the snake several times to kill it. Jim gets angry at Ántonia for not warning him in English about the presence of the snake, but her admiration for his bravery quickly wins him over. They resolve to bring the dead snake home to show off Jim’s victory. The size of the snake impresses Jim’s elders, and Ántonia derives great pleasure from relating the story to all interested listeners.

Summary: Chapter VIII

Meanwhile, the Russians, Peter and Pavel, have fallen upon hard times. Peter finds himself deeply in debt to a Black Hawk moneylender named Wick Cutter, and Pavel seriously injures himself in a fall. When Peter arrives at the Burdens’ to ask the Shimerdas, who are visiting, for help, Jim decides to accompany Ántonia and her father to the Russians’ farm. They arrive after nightfall and find Pavel lying incapacitated. Frantic preoccupation with wolves punctuates his illness—a fascination whose origins Ántonia explains to Jim on the ride home: when Pavel and Peter were living in Russia, they attended a winter wedding party between a mutual friend and a girl from a neighboring town. On the ride home from the wedding, a pack of wolves attacked the wedding party in their sledges. Everyone perished, with the exception of Pavel and Peter, who were driving the sledge that carried the newly married couple; in a frantic effort to lighten that sledge’s load to increase its speed, Pavel had thrown the couple to the wolves. The shame of this incident drove Pavel and Peter from their hometown and later from Russia.

The memory of the horror of that evening plagues both Pavel and Peter. Pavel dies mere days after Ántonia and Jim’s visit, and, with Pavel gone, Peter sells off everything and leaves America. Mr. Shimerda thus quickly loses two of the only friends he had made in the country, and Pavel’s story continues to fascinate Ántonia and Jim long after Pavel’s death.

Summary: Chapter IX

At the first snowfall, Otto Fuchs builds a sleigh for Jim to drive. After a test run, Jim sets out to give Ántonia and Yulka a ride. The girls are unprepared for the cold weather, and Jim gives them some of his clothing to help them keep warm. As a result, he himself is vulnerable to the cold, and ends up bedridden for two weeks with quinsy, a severe tonsil disease.

Summary: Chapter X

Jim’s next encounter with Ántonia occurs when Mrs. Burden resolves to bring a gift of a rooster and foodstuffs to the Shimerdas. As they approach the Shimerda farm, Jim spots Ántonia working at the water pump, but she quickly flees back to the house. When Mrs. Shimerda answers the Burdens’ call, she is in tears. The Shimerdas have very little food stored up for the winter, and much of what they do have is rotting. When Jake brings in the gift basket of food, Mrs. Shimerda only cries harder. Mr. Shimerda explains that they were not beggars in Bohemia, but that several unexpected turns in -America have left them with very little money. While Mrs. Burden reassures the Shimerdas, Jim plays with Yulka’s kitten. As the Burdens rise to leave, Mrs. Shimerda presents a small gift package of food to Mrs. Burden. On the ride home, Jake and Mrs. Burden -discuss the Shimerdas’ plight. Later, while preparing supper, Mrs. Burden discards the gift package of food. Though he is unsure of what the food is, Jim breaks off a small piece and eats it anyway.

Summary: Chapter XI

During the week before Christmas, with Jake preparing to go into town to do the Burdens’ Christmas shopping, a heavy snow begins to fall. Mr. Burden decides that the roads are unfit for travel, and the family sets about to create homemade Christmas presents. Jim makes a pair of picture books for Ántonia and Yulka, and Mrs. Burden bakes gingerbread cookies. After delivering an offering to the Shimerdas, Jake brings back a small cedar tree, which the Burdens decorate on Christmas Eve.

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Plot

by heggedunk, August 19, 2012

My Antonia is a modernist novel about the coming of age. Modernism is a style of writing used from the late 19th century till the 1930s. Modernism is a style that has no central plot instead it is more of a series of episodes. Please take note that most teachers ask for a specific plot where this novel doesn't really have one. My advice here would be to talk about the aging of the main characters or Jim's attraction to Antonia as a main plot. Also take note that both Jim Burden and Antonia can be considered Protagonists. I hope this helps as... Read more

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213 out of 244 people found this helpful

Regarding Mr.Shimerda

by STianF223, October 10, 2013

Mr. Shimerda CANNOT possibly have committed suicide for this is impossible. The scene has showed that Mr. Shimerda, laying on his side with the gun beside him. Otto's suspicion was that Mr. Shimerda was to lay on his side and put his long rifle in his mouth, using his big toe to pull the trigger, and kill himself. This would make sense, seeing how the scene was created and how there was a bullet hole in the wall until it takes up on account of two major problem, being the Shimerdas are HIGHLY religious and that there were pieces of his head,... Read more

1 Comments

20 out of 46 people found this helpful

Another Harling

by rachelnolan, November 20, 2013

Actually, Sally is not the youngest Harling child, Nina is. They have 5 children.

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