As Jim settles into his new home, he begins to run errands for the Burdens and rides his pony, Dude, twice a week to the post office. He is captivated by the land—the sunflower-bordered roads, the copper cornfields, and the occasional elm trees. In the evening, he and Ántonia watch the burrowing owls fly to their underground nests.
Jim's love for the prairie landscape is profound—he considers the prairie a sacred place. In watching the owls, Jim and Ántonia show their connection to the land, which forms the basis of their friendship.
Although Mrs. Shimerda grumbles about it, every afternoon Jim gives Ántonia reading lessons. Ántonia eagerly learns to cook from Jim's grandmother, and, in return, teaches her how to make a "sour, ashy-grey bread" that is new to the Burdens.
Mrs. Shimerda is hesitant to accept the ways of the "new world." Ántonia is eager to learn a new language and style of cooking, but doesn't forget the traditions of the "old country."
In those first weeks, the Shimerdas isolate themselves and avoid town because Krajiek tells them they will be cheated out of their money there. The Shimerdas dislike Krajiek, but they feed him and house him because he's the only one who knows their language.
As immigrants, the Shimerdas are isolated by language and culture, making it easy for Krajiek to manipulate and control them.