When Jim turns 13, his grandparents decide to move to town because they are getting too old to farm and in town Jim can go to school full-time. Jim is pleased that they buy "the first town house one passed driving in from the farm."
The location of the Burdens' new home, midway between the farm and downtown, shows they are reluctant to abandon prairie life entirely.
Rather than seeking work at another farm, Otto and Jake decide to move to the "wild West" to be silver prospectors. They leave after the Burdens move and send a postcard a few months later. Jim never hears from them again.
Otto and Jake's departure means not only the end of two friendships for Jim, but also the end of Jim's childhood. Now Jim must forge new male relationships with boys his own age.
Jim's grandfather becomes the deacon of the new Baptist Church. His grandmother holds dinners for church functions and for farmers coming into town. But Jim yearns for news of Ántonia. He hears Ambrosch has been hiring her out as a farmhand to other farmers, and Jim thinks Ambrosch is mistreating her.
Although Jim's family thrives in the town, he is nostalgic for his old friendship with Ántonia in the prairie. Jim still believes in traditional gender roles, and does not want Ántonia to be treated as a man by her brother.