My Ántonia

by: Willa Cather

Book II, Chapters I–VII

Summary Book II, Chapters I–VII

Summary: Chapter I

Almost three years after his move to Black Hawk, Jim and his grandparents decide to leave their farm in the countryside for a house on the outskirts of town. Finding himself out of work, Otto decides to head out west in search of adventure, and Jake decides to go with him. Before leaving, they help the Burdens move their household. One Sunday morning, they set off on a train, never to see Jim again.

Mr. Burden takes a post as a deacon at the Baptist church in Black Hawk, and Mrs. Burden helps out with the church’s social calendar. Jim begins attending the school in town and quickly adjusts to the company of his new classmates. Jim questions Ambrosch for any news about Ántonia whenever Ambrosch comes to town, but Ambrosch is taciturn and says little.

Summary: Chapter II

The Burdens’ nearest neighbors are the Harlings, a Norwegian family who also used to live on a farm. Three of the Harlings’ children are around Jim’s age, and their older sister, Frances, works in Mr. Harling’s office. In August, the Harlings’ cook leaves them, and Mrs. Burden convinces them to hire Ántonia.

Summary: Chapter III

With her warm personality and easy way, Ántonia is right at home among the Harlings, and she soon settles into a regular routine.

Summary: Chapter IV

One evening, a visitor calls for Ántonia at the Harlings’. Lena Lingard, a local farm girl, has come to announce that she has also found work in town, as a dressmaker. The Harlings welcome Lena, but Ántonia treats her coolly, unsure how she is meant to receive her visi-tor. Jim, thinking back to the stories he has heard of Lena, relates her entanglement with a neighboring farmer, Ole Benson, who became so smitten with Lena that his jealous wife attacked her.

Summary: Chapter V

During the autumn, Jim sees Lena often in town. He helps her to shop for fabric and they trade gossip and stories about life in Black Hawk. Shortly before Christmas, Jim sees Lena and her brother shopping for Christmas presents for their mother. Lena advises her brother to get her monogrammed handkerchiefs, and then, teary-eyed, tells Jim that she misses her family very much.