My Antonia

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My Antonia Book 2, Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Jim notices how all the young men are attracted to the hired immigrant girls, who continue to dance every night. Jim thinks the sacrifices and struggles the girls have had to endure make them more beautiful and energetic than the "refined" town girls. Jim, looking back as an adult, observes that the immigrants' work ethic has in fact made them the most prosperous families in the area.
Jim's liberal views on equality between the classes are progressive, ahead of his time. His ideas are supported by future events, as the immigrants earn their success through hard work while the "refined" and privileged upper class works less diligently and lose their power.
Themes
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
Sylvester Lovett, the son of a banker, becomes infatuated with Lena. Jim hopes that if Sylvester marries Lena it will help rid the townspeople of their prejudices toward the immigrants. But when Sylvester's infatuation causes him to slip up at work, he decides to marry a well-to-do widow in town instead. Jim is furious at him.
The brief anecdote of Sylvester and Lena shows that despite the dances, prejudice against the poorer immigrant classes still exists in Black Hawk. Though he loves Lena, Sylvester is too embarrassed to marry her because she's an immigrant.
Themes
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon