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My Ántonia

Willa Cather

Book I, Chapters XIV–XIX

Book I, Chapters VII-XIII

Book I, Chapters XIV–XIX, page 2

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If I live here, like you, that is different. Things will be easy for you. But they will be hard for us.

(See Important Quotations Explained)

Summary: Chapter XIV

On the second morning of the blizzard, Jim wakes to a great commotion. When he arrives in the kitchen, his grandfather informs him that Mr. Shimerda is dead. With Ambrosch Shimerda curled up on a nearby bench, the Burdens quietly discuss the apparent suicide as they eat breakfast. Jake describes Krajiek’s strange behavior around the body and notes that Krajiek’s axe fits the gash in Mr. Shimerda’s face. Otto Fuchs and Mrs. Burden talk him out of his suspicions. After the meal, Otto sets out to summon the priest and the coroner from Black Hawk, and the others clear the road for the trip to the Shimerdas. Jim stays behind and finds himself alone. After completing a few chores, he settles down to contemplate Mr. Shimerda’s death. At dusk, the wagon returns, and Jake describes the scene at the Shimerdas’ to Jim.

Summary: Chapter XV

The next day, Otto returns from Black Hawk with a young Bohemian named Anton Jelinek. At dinner, Jelinek bemoans the fact that no priest could be found to put Mr. Shimerda to rest. Afterward, Jelinek goes out to clear a road to the Shimerdas’ wide enough for a wagon, and Otto begins to construct a coffin. Later in the afternoon, a number of other locals stop at the Burdens’ to ask after the Shimerdas and discuss the tragedy. The coroner refrains from issuing a warrant for Krajiek at Mr. Burden’s urging. The postmaster alerts the Burdens that none of the graveyards in the area will accept Mr. Shimerda because he killed himself, and Mrs. Burden lashes out in bitterness at this unfairness. With no graveyard to turn to, the Shimerdas decide that they will bury Mr. Shimerda on the corner of their homestead.

Summary: Chapter XVI

After lying dead in the barn for four days, Mr. Shimerda is finally buried on his own land. Despite the beginnings of another ominous snowfall, rural neighbors come from miles around to attend the burial. At Mrs. Shimerda’s request, Mr. Burden says a prayer in English for Mr. Shimerda, and afterward Otto leads the assembled group in a hymn.

Summary: Chapter XVII

With the coming of spring, the neighbors help the Shimerdas to build a new log house on their property, and they eventually acquire a new windmill and some livestock. One day, after giving an English lesson to Yulka, Jim asks Ántonia if she would like to attend the upcoming term at the schoolhouse. Ántonia proudly refuses, saying that she is kept too busy by farm work, but her tears of sorrow reveal her true feelings on the matter. Jim stays at the Shimerdas’ for supper, but he is offended by their ingratitude over neighborly charity and by Ántonia’s coarse manners.

Summary: Chapter XVIII

Once school starts, Jim sees less and less of Ántonia, and soon tension erupts between them. When Jake and Jim ride over to the Shimerdas’ to collect a loaned horse collar, Ambrosch first denies borrowing it, then returns with a badly damaged collar he rudely gives over to them. After a heated exchange, Jake grabs Ambrosch, who kicks him in the stomach. Jake then pounds Ambrosch on the head. Jake and Jim quickly pull away from the Shimerdas’, as Mrs. Shimerda yells after them about sending for the authorities.

When Mr. Burden learns of the incident, he sends Jake into town with a ten-dollar bill to pay the assault fine. For the next few weeks, the Shimerdas are proud and aloof when meeting the Burdens in passing, although they maintain their respect for Mr. Burden. Finally Mr. Burden arranges a reconciliation by hiring Ambrosch to help with his wheat threshing and offering Ántonia a job to help Mrs. Burden in the kitchen. In addition, he forgives Mrs. Shimerda her debt on the milk cow she bought from him. In an effort to show her own forgiveness, Mrs. Shimerda knits Jake a pair of socks.

More Help

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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

21 out of 47 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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