Book 1, Chapters 3 and 4 Notes from My Antonia

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My Antonia Book 1, Chapters 3 and 4

Jim and his family meet their new Bohemian neighbors. The Shimerdas bought their farm and homestead from a fellow Bohemian, Peter Krajiek. Knowing the family could not speak English, he was able to manipulate his prices and rates without the Shimerdas' knowing and without a chance of getting caught. The Shimerdas live in a dugout, which is much too small for their large family. The Burdens meet Mrs. Shimerda, a woman of extreme temperament, susceptible to jealousy and anger. Ambrosch, the eldest son, looks arrogant and like he has a bad temper. Antonia, the eldest daughter, is a striking-looking girl, with eyes that were "big and warm and full of light, like the sun shining on brown pools in the wood." Book 1, Chapter 3, pg. 17. Yulka, the younger daughter, is a good child, and Marek is the crazy son. Jim immediately likes Mr. Shimerda, who is a contrast to his family; he is as genteel and dignified as Mrs. Shimerda and Ambrosch are not. Jim finds that Mr. Shimerda is "calm" and "skilled," but also realizes with a sinking heart, that Mr. Shimerda "looked like ashes," as if "something from which all the warmth and light had died out."Book 1, Chapter 3, pg. 18. When Mr. Shimerda asks Jim to teach Antonia English, Jim swears he will never forget the fervent look on Mr. Shimerda's face.

As the autumn season goes on, Antonia and Jim's relationship turns into friendship. The country that Jim first found anxious now "seemed to [him] the roads to freedom." Book 1, Chapter 4, pg. 21. Jim becomes intimately acquainted with the country: the animals, the vegetation, the weather, and the conditions. Antonia shares Jim's feelings about the country and his experiences of learning about the country. Antonia is eager and enthusiastic about learning to speak English. Jim and his grandparents are saddened for the Shimerdas, whose life on the farm is undoubtedly difficult.

Despite the many hardships, Antonia remains cheerful and optimistic. She knows that she and her family must sacrifice much of their happiness to make do in a new, unfamiliar country.

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