My Antonia Book 4, Chapters 3 and 4
On Mrs. Harling's suggestion, Jim visits the Widow Steavens, the woman who rents the Burdens' farm, to get a detailed account of Antonia's betrayal by Larry and the birth of her baby. Being back in the country delights him, especially since the country is changing. Jim feels that the wild land has been tamed for the better. The country no longer looks or feels alienated and cold; Jim views the fields and crops, the wooden houses instead of dugouts, and farms with orchards and barns with pleasure and happiness. To him, the tamed country means happy families, families who are able to maintain order and a healthy community.
Mrs. Steavens recounts for Jim the events leading up to Antonia's desertion and birth of her child. She recalls how happy and excited Antonia had been when they were preparing for her wedding and marriage to Larry. Antonia had only been troubled by one thing: her anxiety over the idea of living in Denver, the location to which Larry had been rerouted. She knew she would not enjoy the city as much as the country. Antonia knew in her heart that she was meant to live the country: "I'm a country girl...and I doubt if I'll be able to manage so well for him in a city. I was counting on keeping chickens, and maybe a cow." Book 4, Chapter 3, pg. 199.
Antonia left for Denver, but no one had heard from her in a month. She finally returned home, unmarried and pregnant. Larry had deserted her; apparently, he had never intended to marry her. A disgraced and humiliated Antonia returned to her family's farm to work. Mrs. Steavens recalls Antonia helping Ambrosch thresh wheat in the fields yet again, and herding the cattle. The Widow remembers how tired and sad Antonia looked after she had come home, until the birth of her baby. Antonia loved that baby from the very first moment, Mrs. Steavens tells Jim with conviction, and was never once ashamed of it.
Jim visits the Shimerdas' the next day. Antonia is waiting for him, having heard that he went to see Widow Steavens. Jim is surprised to see Antonia physically tired, but mentally strong and vibrant. He sees that caring for her baby has rejuvenated her spirit and her mind, and she is stronger and livelier than ever before. Antonia and Jim catch up on each other's lives. She vows to Jim that life is going to be better for her baby. Antonia knows her destiny; she says, "[E]verybody's put into this world for something, and I know what I've got to do." Book 4, Chapter 4, pg. 206.
Jim tells her that he has always thought about her and cherished her, even though he felt she had disappointed him. They both agree that their fond, happy childhoods spent with each other connect them, despite the many changes in their lives. They think about their childhood days as they walk across the country that has become so familiar to them. Everything Jim sees in the country recalls his childhood with Antonia.