Book 1, Chapters 15 and 16 Notes from My Antonia

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My Antonia Book 1, Chapters 15 and 16

Otto Fuchs returns from town with news: the coroner will be at the Shimerdas later that day, but the priest is out of town. Otto brings with him a young Bohemian man named Anton Jelinek, a devout Christian. The Burdens approve of Jelinek's frankness and beliefs in Christianity.

As the only cabinet-maker in the neighborhood, Otto makes Mr. Shimerda's coffin. Jim notes the ease and the pleasure Otto takes in cabinet-making. Neighbors visit the Burden household to discuss Mr. Shimerda's death and his burial. They wonder where Mr. Shimerda will be laid; the Catholic graveyard would not accept a suicide, and the Norwegian graveyard refuses to take him. Jim learns that Mrs. Shimerda and Ambrosch want Mr. Shimerda to be buried on a corner of their own land, a place where Mr. Burden had explained to them time and time again, that some day in the future, two roads would cross exactly on that spot.

On the fifth day after his death, Mr. Shimerda is buried on the corner of the Shimerdas' property. The Burden household arrives at the Shimerdas' for the burial ceremony. Jim sees how much Mr. Shimerda's death is hurting Antonia. The Shimerdas perform the burial rites. They all touch his bandaged head except Yulka, who is frightened by the sight of her father; his body is wrapped in a black shawl and his head is bandaged. They nail the lid of the coffin and lower the coffin into the plot of ground. Mrs. Shimerda asks Mr. Burden to say prayers.

Years later, Mr. Burden's prediction comes true. The land has changed throughout the years, but Mr. Shimerda's grave is still there, with an unmarked wooden cross and a wire fence surrounding it. The grave is like a little island, Jim sees, because the two roads crossing each other curve to avoid the grave. Jim "never came upon the place without emotion," and he is sure that "never a tired driver passed the wooden cross...without wishing well to the sleeper." Book 1, Chapter 16, pg. 77.

Topic Tracking: Isolationism 11

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