After she leaves the Harlings, Ántonia begins to care about nothing except dancing and fun. She spends all her free time sewing, and then wearing, new clothes with other hired girls.
As she grows up, Ántonia explores her sexuality. It's not clear whether she is actually having sex, but she is clearly enjoying the attention she gets.
With Ántonia no longer living next door to him, Jim is restless, and tired of socializing with the wealthier families. Looking for something to do, he visits the drugstore, train depot, and cigar factory. He even visits a saloon operated by Anton Jelinek. But Anton, who respects Jim's grandfather and knows that he wouldn't want Jim to go to a saloon, asks Jim to leave. Jim also starts to hear rumors that people around town are discussing his behavior.
Jim's restlessness foreshadows his departure from Nebraska. But he isn't restless because he wants more adventure in is life. Instead, he craves relationships with the immigrant classes as he had on the prairie. But Black Hawk society disapproves of this sort of mingling.
Jim starts sneaking out at night to attend the Fireman's Hall, where the immigrants gather to dance. One night Jim walks Ántonia home from the dance and tries to kiss her. She reprimands him. When he tells her that Lena lets him kiss her, she tells him not to make a fool of himself, since he will soon be going away to school to make something of himself. Jim knows that Ántonia will always think of him as a kid, and wishes he could have dreams about Ántonia like the dreams he has about Lena.
Now sexually mature, Jim wants more than just friendship with Ántonia. Yet, just as she understood that Jim could get an education while she could not, Ántonia now understands that the different options available to them would make any romantic relationship between them impossible. Since he idealizes immigrants and craves a connection with them, Jim doesn't understand this.