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It was no wonder that her sons stood tall and straight. She was a rich mine of life, like the founders of early races.
Some twenty years later, Jim returns to Nebraska on his way home to New York from a business trip out west. His intention is to see Ántonia, of whom he has heard almost nothing in the intervening period except that she has married a fellow Bohemian named Cuzak and is raising a large family.
When his buggy arrives at the Cuzak farm, Jim is led up to the house by two young boys and welcomed into the kitchen by two older girls. As he prepares to sit down, Ántonia enters the room, but she fails to recognize him initially. Once she does, she is thrown into a rush of emotion and calls out to gather her children around her. Introductions are made, and Ántonia and Jim sit down in the kitchen to discuss old times and new times.
During their conversation, one of Ántonia’s boys comes into the house to mourn the death of his dog. Ántonia consoles him, and the Cuzaks take Jim on a tour of their new fruit cave. Afterward, Jim is taken through the farmhouse and then on to the orchard. Another long talk of times gone by ensues, and Ántonia invites Jim to stay the night with them. Jim expresses his wish to sleep in the haymow with her sons, and Ántonia goes off to prepare supper while Jim heads out to milk cows with the boys.
At supper the group crowds into the kitchen, and afterward everyone settles in the parlor for some musical entertainment by the Cuzak children. After the concert, Ántonia brings out a box of photographs, and the children gather around as their mother leads Jim through the pictures. Ántonia tells stories until eleven, when Jim and the boys retire to the barn. The boys’ giggles quickly give way to slumber, but Jim lays awake late into the night, thinking of Ántonia.
The next morning, Jim dresses in the barn and washes up by the windmill, entering the kitchen to find breakfast ready. In the afternoon, Cuzak returns with his oldest son and introduces him to Jim. Cuzak begins to describe the details of their trip into town, including a dance at which they encountered many of Ántonia’s Bohemian acquaintances. Back at the house, as Ántonia serves a supper of geese and apples, the talk turns to Black Hawk, and the story of the violent murder-suicide involving Wick Cutter and his wife.
After the meal, Cuzak and Jim take a walk into the orchard, and Cuzak recounts for Jim the details of his early life. Confessing a loneliness for his old haunts in Bohemia and Vienna, Cuzak explains that the warmth of Ántonia’s love and the energy of his large family has kept him free from despair.
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