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Book 2, Chapters 8 and 9 Notes from My Antonia

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My Antonia Book 2, Chapters 8 and 9

That spring, Jim has never felt so happy and secure. He has a feeling that the summer will undoubtedly change his life, and Antonia's. They are growing up and becoming adults. He thinks the new dancing tent may have partly caused the change. The Vannis have brought the dancing tent to town to teach dance lessons and to provide a place for dances during the evenings. Every evening, they close the dances at ten o'clock, but on Saturdays the dances close at midnight. Jim, like other young men and women, is pleased that there is something to do on long summer nights. He never misses a Saturday night dance, and neither do the "hired girls" - Antonia, Lena, Tiny, and their friends. The young men from town would always dance with the hired girls.

Jim scorns the Black Hawk view toward society. All the young men are attracted to the country girls who have come to town to earn a living for their parents and younger siblings. Jim admires the hired girls, who have all led hard lives, coming to America from their old countries, working on the farms, often living in poverty. Yet the daughters of Black Hawk socialites are the ones who are viewed as refined. The hired girls have a certain freedom, vigor, and strength that is attractive, yet the elder generation of Black Hawk look on them with disdain. Jim condemns the town people for their narrow-mindedness toward the hired girls. He says with conviction that there is not a man in town who rivals the gentility, the intelligence, and the manners of Antonia's father. The country girls are considered a "menace to the social order" in Black Hawk Book 2, Chapter 9, pg. 129; their unusual beauty distracts the young men of Black Hawk from the women they are supposed to marry. The Vannis' dancing tent brings town boys and country girls together, but Jim wishes that one of the town boys would marry one of the country girls, so that all the hired girls would be better looked upon.

Topic Tracking: Gender and Sexuality 6

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