My Antonia Book 1, Chapters 5 and 6
Antonia and her father are thrilled by the discovery of their Russian neighbors, Peter and Pavel. Mr. Shimerda has been lonely since he and his family immigrated to America, and his newfound friends brighten his spirits. Jim learns from Antonia that the Russian language is very similar to Bohemian, and that Mr. Shimerda, Peter, and Pavel reminisce about the Old World they had left behind. While Pavel is quick to pin suspicion on people, Peter is friendly and courteous. Yet they have been friends for so long, they work well together despite their differences.
When Jim visits Peter with Antonia, he has a pleasant time spending time with him. The farm Peter and Pavel own is a good size for them. Both men work hard in tending their crops and caring for the animals, especially their cow. Peter is eager to entertain and feed the children; he gives them fresh, ripe watermelons to eat and plays his harmonica for them. Jim overhears Peter sigh that he and Pavel were forced to leave their beloved country.
Jim realizes that Antonia is "most comfortable only when we were tucked down on the baked earth, in the full blaze of the sun." Book 1, Chapter 6, pg. 27 The two of them spend hours playing and running around the prairie after Jim finishes teaching Antonia her lesson. Antonia often tells Jim stories about her life back in Bohemia. During one of these times, Antonia finds and treasures a frail grasshopper and lays it on top of her hair to keep it safe. Jim can never get used to the glorious autumn afternoons he spends with Antonia in the country. He and Antonia believe that the "miles of copper-red grass were drenched in sunlight that was stronger and fiercer than at any other time of day," for "that hour always had the exultation of victory, of triumphant ending, like a hero's death." Book 1, Chapter 6, pg. 28.
For all of the glorious afternoons Jim spends, even he cannot miss the sadness and the sorrow in Mr. Shimerda's eyes. Jim notes that Antonia is the only one of the family who could cheer him up. When Antonia shows her father the grasshopper, he is also enchanted by the insect. Mr. Shimerda promises Jim that he will give him his beloved gun. Jim long ago recognized the Shimerdas' willingness to give things away to others for the future, but the "old man's smile...was so full of sadness, of pity for things, that [Jim] never afterward forgot it." Book 1, Chapter 6, pg. 29.