My Antonia

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Ántonia Shimerda Character Analysis

A Bohemian immigrant and Jim's closest friend, Ántonia comes to the prairie when she is 13. She is lively and intelligent, but struggles to remain optimistic while enduring the many hardships of poverty. Still, Jim describes her as having a youthful "vigour" and identifies her with light. Like Jim, Ántonia feels a deep attachment to the prairie, and she works in the fields with the men when her father dies. But when she moves to town to work as a housekeeper, she becomes interested in clothing and dancing, and gains a reputation for being "easy." Although Jim loves her, Ántonia can never view him as more than a younger brother. She becomes a single mother in her early twenties, but later moves back to the farm, marries Anton Cuzak, and raises 11 children.

Ántonia Shimerda Quotes in My Antonia

The My Antonia quotes below are all either spoken by Ántonia Shimerda or refer to Ántonia Shimerda. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
).
Introduction Quotes
During that burning day when we were crossing Iowa, our talk kept returning to a central figure, a Bohemian girl whom we had both known long ago. More than any other person we remembered, this girl seemed to mean to us the country, the conditions, the whole adventure of our childhood.
Related Characters: Jim Burden (speaker), Ántonia Shimerda
Book 1, Chapter 7 Quotes
This was enough for Ántonia. She liked me better from that time on, and she never took a supercilious air with me again. I had killed a big snake – I was now a big fellow.
Related Characters: Jim Burden (speaker), Ántonia Shimerda
Book 1, Chapter 10 Quotes
I never forgot the strange taste; though it was many years before I knew that those little brown shavings, which the Shimerdas had brought so far and treasured so jealously, were dried mushrooms. They had been gathered, probably, in some deep Bohemian forest...
Book 1, Chapter 19 Quotes
"Why aren't you always nice like this, Tony?" "How nice?"

"Why, just like this; like yourself. Why do you all the time try to be like Ambrosch?"

She put her arms under her head and lay back, looking up at the sky. "If I live here, like you, that is different. Things will be easy for you. But they will be hard for us" (Chapter 19).
Related Characters: Jim Burden (speaker), Ántonia Shimerda (speaker), Ambrosch Shimerda
Book 2, Chapter 14 Quotes
Even while we whispered about it, our vision disappeared; the ball dropped and dropped until the red tip went beneath the earth. The fields below us were dark, the sky was growing pale, and that forgotten plough had sunk back to its own littleness somewhere on the prairie.
Related Characters: Jim Burden (speaker), Ántonia Shimerda
Related Symbols: The Prairie, The Plough, Light
Book 4, Chapter 1 Quotes
I was bitterly disappointed in her [Ántonia]. I could not forgive her for becoming an object of pity, while Lena Lingard, for whom people had always foretold trouble, was now the leading dressmaker of Lincoln, much respected in Black Hawk.
Related Characters: Jim Burden (speaker), Ántonia Shimerda, Lena Lingard
Book 4, Chapter 3 Quotes
"After the winter begun she [Ántonia] wore a man's long overcoat and boots, and a man's felt hat with a wide brim."
Related Characters: The Widow Steavens (speaker), Ántonia Shimerda
Book 5, Chapter 1 Quotes
She was a battered woman now, not a lovely girl; but she still had that something which fires the imagination, could still stop one's breath for a moment by a look or gesture that somehow revealed the meaning in common things. She had only to stand in the orchard, to put her hand on a little crab tree and look up at the apples, to make you feel the goodness of planting and tending and harvesting at last. All the strong things of her heart came out in her body, that had been so tireless in serving generous emotions.
Related Characters: Jim Burden (speaker), Ántonia Shimerda
Related Symbols: The Prairie
In my memory there was a succession of such pictures, fixed there like the old woodcuts of one's first primer: Ántonia kicking her bare legs against the sides of my pony when we came home in triumph with our snake; Ántonia in her black shawl and fur cap, as she stood by her father's grave in the snowstorm; Ántonia coming in with her work-team along the evening sky.
Related Characters: Jim Burden (speaker), Ántonia Shimerda
Related Symbols: The Prairie, The Plough, Light
Book 5, Chapter 3 Quotes
For Ántonia and for me, this had been the road of Destiny; had taken us to those early accidents of fortune which predetermined for us all that we can ever be. Now I understood that the same road was to bring us together again. Whatever we had missed, we possessed together the precious, the incommunicable past.
Related Characters: Jim Burden (speaker), Ántonia Shimerda
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Ántonia Shimerda Character Timeline in My Antonia

The timeline below shows where the character Ántonia Shimerda appears in My Antonia. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Introduction
The Past Theme Icon
...ran into Jim again last summer on a train in Iowa. Jim kept bringing up Ántonia, an immigrant Bohemian girl whom they knew in Nebraska when they were young. Months later,... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 1
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...only one in the family who knows any English. Jim later recognizes this girl as Ántonia. (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 3
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
The Prairie Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
...among rough red hills. They meet the Shimerdas and their children, Ambrosch, the eldest son, Ántonia, the pretty middle child, and Yulka, the youngest. Jim notices how Ántonia has cheeks that... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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...talk and Mrs. Shimerda complains about the poorly built home they have purchased, Jim and Ántonia go outside. Ántonia takes Jim to the creek and asks him to teach her the... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 4
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...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. (full context)
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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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... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 5
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...they were rough-mannered and spoke an unintelligible language. A few months after the Shimerdas' arrival, Ántonia takes Jim to visit the Russians. Only Peter is home. Jim is surprised to find... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 6
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Weeks pass, and Jim's friendship with Ántonia continues to develop. In what he describes as "the magical light of the late afternoon",... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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Just then, Jim and Ántonia see Mr. Shimerda walking toward them. He has shot three rabbits, but he seems sad,... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 7
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Jim and Ántonia visit Peter to borrow a spade. On the way home, they decide to dig into... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 8
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That autumn, Ántonia tells Jim that Peter is worried about the growing interest on his mortgage debt to... (full context)
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Mr. Shimerda, Ántonia, and Jim stay at Pavel's bedside. Aware that he is dying, Pavel confesses to Ántonia,... (full context)
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...Hawk. Before he leaves, he eats all the melons he has grown on his farm. Ántonia and Jim vow never to disclose Peter and Pavel's secret. Mr. Shimerda is depressed without... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 9
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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...rides to the Shimerdas' house on a sleigh Otto has built for him. He takes Ántonia and Yulka on a ride, but they become very cold because they do not have... (full context)
The Prairie Theme Icon
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...colder on the sleigh ride, he is too proud to show it. When he brings Ántonia and Yulka home he refuses to warm himself by their fire. The next day he... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 10
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Jim does not see Ántonia for weeks. One night, the Burdens learn that the Shimerdas are taking turns wearing their... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 11
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...have a homemade "country Christmas." Jim's grandmother bakes gingerbread and Jim makes picture books for Ántonia and Yulka from magazine clippings and cards he brought to Nebraska from his "old country"... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 13
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There is good weather after Christmas, and Ántonia brings Mrs. Shimerda to visit the Burdens for the first time. But Mrs. Shimerda is... (full context)
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Jim snaps at Ántonia when she complains that Mr. Shimerda is sick. He tells her, "People who don't like... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 17
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That spring, Ántonia turns 15, and Jim notices she is no longer a child. She has grown tan... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 18
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Jim starts school and sees less of Ántonia. One Sunday, Jake takes him to the Shimerdas to retrieve a horse-collar Ambrosch has borrowed.... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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...a number of weeks. Jim's grandfather then brings about a reconciliation by hiring Ambrosch and Ántonia to do some work and telling Mrs. Shimerda that she does not have to pay... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 19
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When school is out in midsummer, Jim and Ántonia spend more time together. One night Jim and Ántonia climb to the roof to watch... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 1
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...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... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 2
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After the Harling's cook leaves them, Jim's grandmother convinces Mrs. Harling to hire Ántonia. They do, and intend to pay Ántonia well, including an allowance for her clothing. But... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 3
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Ántonia arrives at the Harlings, excited about her new job. Jim is jealous of her immediate... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 4
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One evening that autumn, a pretty well-dressed girl arrives at the Harlings. Ántonia and Jim are surprised to recognize her as Lena Lingard, a Norwegian girl who used... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 6
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That winter, Jim spends many evenings at the Harlings, playing games and listening to Ántonia's stories. One night, Ántonia tells a story about a tramp who wandered into the farm... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 7
Friendship Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
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...the parlor where he is playing. The door between the two rooms is opened, revealing Ántonia, Lena and Tiny dancing to the music. Though at first the girls are shocked to... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 8
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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...dancing. They set up a temporary dancing pavilion in town, and a dancing frenzy ensues. Ántonia and the other "hired girls" love the pavilion, which is, as Jim notes, "a place... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 10
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Ántonia's dancing gains her many admirers. Eager to get to the dances every night, she becomes... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 12
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After she leaves the Harlings, Ántonia begins to care about nothing except dancing and fun. She spends all her free time... (full context)
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With Ántonia no longer living next door to him, Jim is restless, and tired of socializing with... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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...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... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 13
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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...and she scolds Jim for imagining "a kind of glamour" in the country girls like Ántonia. She tells Jim he is too much of a "romantic." (full context)
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...that is very well received. His grandparents and the Harlings congratulate him. Afterward, he sees Ántonia on the street, and she tells him how proud she is of him, words that... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 14
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...his time inside studying, preparing for university. He only takes a break from studying when Ántonia, Lena, and their friends invite him to the river to pick elder flowers. Jim arrives... (full context)
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Ántonia arrives before the other girls, and she and Jim talk about old times. She notices... (full context)
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That evening, as the sun is setting, Jim, Ántonia and the other girls see a black figure on the prairie magnified by the red... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 15
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In August the Cutters go to Omaha for a few days, leaving Ántonia behind to watch the house. Ántonia visits Jim and his grandparents, worried because Mr. Cutter... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 2
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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...in Lincoln and is finally able to build her mother a house. Jim asks about Ántonia, and Lena tells him Ántonia is working as a housekeeper at the hotel in Black... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 1
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
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...his grandparents in Black Hawk. While there, Jim visits with old friends and learns that Ántonia's fiancé Larry, a train conductor, got her pregnant and then abandoned her. The news deeply... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 2
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...grandparents to have their photograph taken a few days later, he notices a picture of Ántonia's baby on the wall. Jim later visits Mrs. Harling and asks her to give him... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 3
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Jim goes to visit the Widow Steavens, who tells Jim Ántonia's story. Ántonia was preparing for her wedding when she got a letter from Larry saying... (full context)
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Ántonia wrote to tell her family that she had arrived safely in Denver. No further word... (full context)
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Ántonia immediately began working in the fields and started wearing a man's baggy coat, boots, and... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 4
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The next day, Jim goes to see Ántonia at the Shimerda's farm. She is thinner and looks "worked down." They sit near Mr.... (full context)
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Jim then tells Ántonia that he thinks of her more often than anyone else, and that she is a... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 1
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Jim avoids going back to see Ántonia for 20 years, afraid to find her "aged and broken." In those years, he hears... (full context)
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...on the way back from his business trip. When he arrives at the Cuzak farm, Ántonia doesn't recognize Jim at first. When she finally realizes it is him, she is thrilled.... (full context)
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Antonia introduces Jim to all of her 11 children. The children take Jim to see their... (full context)
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Ántonia shows Jim the apple orchard. She tells Jim that she and her husband planted all... (full context)
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Ántonia shows Jim old photographs of her wedding day, including photos of Ambrosch and Lena. Then... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 2
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The next morning, Ántonia's husband, Cuzak, comes home from town with his oldest son. Though Cuzak is far from... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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...first came to Nebraska he terribly missed his old life in Bohemia and Vienna. But Ántonia's love, warmth, and tireless effort helped him build a life and a family in Nebraska,... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 3
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Jim leaves Ántonia's farm the next day, promising to return soon to visit Ántonia, Cuzak, and their children,... (full context)