My Antonia Book 1, Chapters 7 and 8
Antonia, older and having seen more of the world than Jim, naturally acts superior to him. Jim resents this; he is a boy, and Antonia is a girl. However, after they share an adventure, Antonia's view of him changes; Jim remarks proudly that afterwards Antonia, "began to treat [him] more like an equal and to defer to [him] in other things than reading lessons." Book 1, Chapter 7, pg. 30.
On their way back from borrowing a spade, Jim and Antonia decide to check out some prarie dog holes in the ground. Suddenly, Antonia screams. A large snake is lying on the ground behind Jim. He runs up to the snake and strikes its head with the spade. The snake coils its body around Jim's feet until it dies. Jim feels somewhat sickened by what happened, but Antonia feels awe and respect for him. Antonia says to Jim, "I never know you was so brave...You is just like big mans; you wait for him lift his head and then you go for him. Ain't you feel scared a bit? Now we take that snake home and show everybody. Nobody ain't seen in this kawn-tree so big snake like you kill." Book 1, Chapter 7, pg. 32. Jim feels important and proud, but he comes to realize that he had been lucky in his encounter with the snake. He was armed, the snake was old and lazy, and Antonia was there to witness the event. After Jim hangs the dead snake on the fence, the admiration of the neighbors enhances Antonia's adulation.
Bad luck befalls the Russians, Pavel and Peter. Peter owes a large amount of money to a creditor, Wick Cutter. Pavel is ill from exhaustion after having strained himself lifting lumber. One evening, when Mr. Shimerda and Antonia are visiting the Burdens, Peter comes to fetch Mr. Shimerda. Pavel had been asking to speak to him and Antonia. Jim goes along with the Shimerdas to Peter and Pavel's home.
When they arrive, Pavel becomes agitated from the howling of the coyotes out in the distance. Between coughs and heavy breathing, Pavel tells Mr. Shimerda a story about wolves before coughing up blood. After Pavel's coughs subside, Mr. Shimerda leads his daughter and Jim to Peter's team of horses to take them home. Antonia translates Pavel's story to Jim during the ride home.
When Peter and Pavel were young men back in Russia, they were asked to be groomsmen for a friend. They also drove the sledge that carried the newlywed couple. During that winter season, there were many wolves in the area. Hundreds of wolves set out after the six sledges of the wedding party. Peter and Pavel, the drivers of the first sledge, did not notice that the sledges in the rear had fallen to the wolves already. The wolves overturned the sledge directly behind the newlyweds in the lead sledge, and were now gaining on them. Pavel told the groom they needed to lighten the weight of their sledge, and pointed to the bride. The groom refused to give his new bride to the wolves; Pavel and the groom began to fight. He knocked the groom off the sledge and threw his bride off after him. Peter and Pavel quickly made it to their village safely, but the village people realized what had happened when they saw that the bride and groom were not with them. Peter and Pavel were ostracized from their village and forced to move. Whenever they moved in Russia, their reputation as the men who fed a bride to the wolves banned them from the town. With nowhere to go, they immigrated to America. From city to city, things were rough for the two of them.
Pavel dies a few days after he told the story to Mr. Shimerda. Peter then sells all of his belongings, and leaves to earn a living on the railroad construction camps. Peter looked terribly sad and devastated after selling his cow; he sat by himself in the empty log cabin, eating the watermelon that was left. Mr. Shimerda takes the loss of his two friends harder than anyone else. He would sit in the Russians' empty house by himself, thinking.