Book 1: The Shimerdas, Chapters 1 and 2 Notes from My Antonia

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My Antonia Book 1: The Shimerdas, Chapters 1 and 2

Ten-year-old Jim Burden is sent to live with his grandparents in rural Nebraska when his parents die. Jim and Jake Marpole, one of the Burdens' farm-hands, travel to Nebraska on the railroad together from the hills of Virginia. An immigrant family, the Shimerdas, is traveling to their destination as well. Like most other immigrants, the Shimerdas left their native Bohemia and moved to America for a better life. Like Jim, the Shimerdas have no one to turn to in a new, frightening place.

Topic Tracking: Isolationism 2

Jim sees the Shimerdas for the first time when they all get off at the Black Hawk station. Otto Fuchs, Jim's grandfather's hired hand, picks them up at the station and drives them home to the farm. Otto looks like a cowboy from Jim's book, Jesse James. Jim experiences feelings of anxiety and trepidation when he sees the wide prairie for the first time. The expanse of land frightens him; he sees nothing but land for miles and miles around.

Topic Tracking: Landscape 2
Topic Tracking: Isolationism 3

Jim's grandparents make Jim and Jake feel welcome in their home. Mrs. Burden, Jim's grandmother, is a strong, energetic woman, intelligent and lively. In contrast, Jim's grandfather, Mr. Burden, is quiet and dignified. Jim finds happiness and contentment in his grandmother's garden. For the first time, Jim feels connected to the land he had abhorred so much. The well-preserved garden, full of flowers and vegetables, assures him that humans, when they die, "become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge." Book 1, Chapter 2, pg. 14.

Topic Tracking: Landscape 3

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