My Antonia Book 1, Chapters 13 and 14
The New Year brings warmer weather. One morning, Antonia and her mother visit the Burden household. Mrs. Shimerda is immediately envious and jealous of the Burdens' home. Jim finds Antonia's mother to be such a nuisance, that he ignores Antonia's worries about her father. Antonia speaks with feeling about her father; she knows how sad he is, because he does not play his beloved fiddle: "My papa sad for the old country. He not look good. He never make music any more. At home he play violin all the time; for weddings and for dance. Here never. When I beg him for play, he shake his head no. Some days he take his violin out of his box and make with his fingers on the strings, like this, but never he make the music." Book 1, Chapter 13, pg. 59. Jim replies that maybe they should not have come to America if he had not wanted to move. At Jim's stinging remark, Antonia bursts out that it was her mother who made the family move: "[My papa] not want to come, nev-er!...But my mama, she want Ambrosch for to be rich, with many cattle." Book 1, Chapter 13, pg. 59.
To Mrs. Shimerda and Antonia, Ambrosch, the eldest son, is considered the most important person in their family.
One morning, Jim wakes to noises in the kitchen. Instinctively knowing that something has happened, he goes to the kitchen, and sees Jake and Otto looking exhausted and Ambrosch Shimerda sleeping on a bench. Mr. Burden informs Jim gravely that Mr. Shimerda is dead. Jim learns the story of Mr. Shimerda's death from Otto and Jake. Mr. Shimerda had shaved and washed himself after dinner, dressed in clean clothes, kissed Antonia and Yulka, and said he was going to hunt rabbits. He then went to the barn and shot himself. No one heard the shot and Ambrosch did not discover his father's body in the barn until the next day.
Mr. Burden tells his wife that there is nothing they can do until the coroner is able to come, which will not happen for a few days because of the blizzard. Mrs. Burden decides to go see the Shimerdas anyway, to make sure the children are all right, especially Antonia: "The oldest one was his darling, and was like a right hand to him. He might have thought of her. He's left her alone in a hard world." Book 1, Chapter 14, pg. 64.
Alone in the house for the first time, Jim realizes, "if Mr. Shimerda's soul were lingering about in this world at all, it would be here, in our house, which had been more to his liking than any other in the neighborhood." Book 1, Chapter 14, pg. 66. He knows that it was homesickness, a longing for his past life in Bohemia, that led to Mr. Shimerda's death. "His exhausted spirit, so tired of cold and crowding and the struggle with the ever-falling snow" must be in the Burdens' home. Book 1, Chapter 14, pg. 66.