My Antonia Book 1, Chapters 17 - 19
Spring comes to Nebraska, and Jim finds the warm weather inviting and invigorating. The Shimerdas have a new log house, built in front of their old cave. Now Jim teaches Yulka English, for Antonia is too busy helping her family. Antonia helps Ambrosch in the fields. Jim laments how "she had come to [them] as a child, and now she was a tall, strong young girl." Book 1, Chapter 17, pg. 79. Antonia wears her father's old boots and hat over her outgrown dress and rolls up her sleeves all day long, threshing crops with a plough. She does not have time to go to school when Jim asks her (on behalf of his grandmother). Antonia boasts, "I can work like mans now...I can work as much as [Ambrosch]. School is all right for little boys. I can help make this land one good farm." Book 1, Chapter 17, pg. 80. Despite her boasting, Jim sees that Antonia misses learning English. She had enjoyed learning so much because she wanted to be like her father, who had been educated in school. Antonia begs him to tell her all about school and not to forget about her father. Jim promises that he will never forget about Mr. Shimerda.
Mrs. Shimerda actually enjoys watching Ambrosch and Antonia argue over who worked more that day. Jim is annoyed at the Shimerda family, but he is especially dismayed with Antonia's manners. As he says with uneasiness, Antonia is "too proud of her own strength."Book 1, Chapter 17, pg. 81. All Antonia talks or thinks about is ploughing, farming, and tending the fields. Jim feels that Antonia has lost the genteel manners and behavior that Mr. Shimerda had taught her, and is ashamed for her.
Jim and Antonia's relationship becomes more estranged later that spring. Antonia's indifference to school and her admiration for Ambrosch, add to the tension in their relationship. Jake and Jim go to the Shimerdas' to ask Ambrosch for a horse-collar that he had borrowed from Mr. Burden, but had not returned. Ambrosch and Jake fight; Antonia takes her brother's side and Jim takes Jake's. Mr. Burden does not participate in the feud. In fact, he negotiates a reconciliation between the two households. He takes Jim to the Shimerdas' to ask Antonia to help Mrs. Burden in the kitchen, and to enlist Ambrosch for cutting and threshing his crops. The Shimerdas are glad to make peace with Jim and Jake again.
The summer season means threshing and cutting wheat. All in the Burden household are kept busy: the men in the fields, Jim carrying water to them, Antonia and Mrs. Burden in the kitchen. Antonia walks to the garden every morning with Jim to pick the vegetables for dinner. Jim sees how happy Antonia is in the country. Antonia admits to herself how she prefers working outside to working in the house. During a thundershower one night, Jim and Antonia talk. Antonia regrets that her father missed the chance to see the summer in America and that he had to die in the bleakness of the winter. When Jim asks her why she must act like Ambrosch, and toil in the fields, Antonia replies practically, "Things will be easy for you. But they will be hard for us." Book 1, Chapter 19, pg. 90.