Book Notes Book 3: Lena Lingard, Chapters 1 and 2 Notes from My Antonia

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My Antonia Book 3: Lena Lingard, Chapters 1 and 2

Jim enters the university at Lincoln under the supervision of Gaston Cleric, his advisor and the head of the Latin Department. He and Cleric become good friends, both staying the summer in Lincoln instead of going home. That summer, Jim declares that Gaston's presence has awakened him to new ideas and thoughts. Jim works hard on his Latin and Greek. Cleric visits Jim during the evenings and they stay up late talking about Latin and English poetry, or Cleric's stay in Italy. Jim is fascinated at Cleric's speeches; there is no one like Cleric who generates so much liveliness and vitality from Latin antiquity. Although he admires Cleric's dedication to his academic and scholarly success, he admits that he can never become a scholar himself. Jim "could never lose [himself] for so long among impersonal things." Book 2, Chapter 1, pg. 168. Instead of the ancient life Cleric teaches him, Jim finds himself thinking about his own past - the people and places he knew as a child - and how those early memories he remembers so vividly accompany him through his new experiences. Those early friends and places he had loved so much are "alive" in him.

Now a sophomore at the university, Jim is studying in his room one March evening, when he is interrupted by a visitor, Lena Lingard. Jim does not recognize her, as Lena has been "so quietly conventionalized by city clothes." Book 3, Chapter 2, pg. 170. She tells him that she is living in Lincoln as well; she has her own dressmaking shop. She has been living in Lincoln all winter, but she did not go to see Jim because she had been afraid that he did not wish to see her. Back in town, Lena says that they all talk about how studious he has become. Her new job is going so well that she finally has the chance to buy her mother the house she always wanted. Jim is happy that Lena is doing so well and says that he fears he is not going to be as well off as she is. Lena informs him that Antonia is always bragging about him, how she believes he will be even richer than Mr. Harling. When Jim asks how Antonia is, Lena replies that Antonia works for Mrs. Gardener and that she is engaged to Larry Donovan. She adds that Larry does not care for the Harlings very much, although Antonia is fond of them again after she and Mrs. Harling made up. Lena then bids good-bye to Jim, promising to meet again soon, leaving Jim with the unmistakable feeling of attraction and desire. He thanks Lena for giving him the chance to remember the past again. His old dream of Lena in the field resurfaces.

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