My Antonia

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)
The protagonist of My Ántonia and the narrator of most of the novel. Orphaned at the age of ten, he comes to live with his grandparents on the Nebraska prairie. Jim is reflective, studious, and a "romantic." He feels deeply connected to the land. He isolates himself from boys his own age, preferring the friendship of the older immigrant girls. He later becomes a successful lawyer in New York City, but can never forget his childhood friend, Ántonia, whom he elevates in his mind to an almost mythical status.

Jim Burden Quotes in My Antonia

The My Antonia quotes below are all either spoken by Jim Burden or refer to Jim Burden. 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 1 Quotes
There seemed to be nothing to see; no fences, no creeks or trees, no hills or fields. If there was a road, I could not make it out in the faint starlight. There was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made.
Related Characters: Jim Burden (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Prairie, Light
Book 1, Chapter 2 Quotes
I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge.
Related Characters: Jim Burden (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Prairie, Light
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 16 Quotes
The road from the north curved a little to the south; so that the grave, with its tall red grass that was never mowed, was like a little island; and at twilight, under a new moon or the clear evening star, the dusty roads used to look like soft grey rivers flowing past it. I never came upon the place without emotion, and in all that country it was the spot most dear to me."
Related Characters: Jim Burden (speaker), Mr. Shimerda
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."
Related Characters: Jim Burden (speaker), Ántonia Shimerda (speaker), Ambrosch Shimerda
Book 2, Chapter 8 Quotes
Yet the summer which was to change everything was coming nearer every day. When boys and girls are growing up, life can't stand still, not even in the quietest of country towns; and they have to grow up, whether they will or no. That is what their elders are always forgetting.
Related Characters: Jim Burden (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Prairie
Book 2, Chapter 9 Quotes
If I told my schoolmates that Lena Lingard's grandfather was a clergyman, and much respected in Norway, they looked at me blankly. What did it matter? All foreigners were ignorant people who couldn't speak English.
Related Characters: Jim Burden (speaker), Lena Lingard
Book 2, Chapter 14 Quotes
On some upland farm, a plough had been left standing in the field. The sun was sinking just behind it. Magnified across the distance by the horizontal light, it stood out against the sun, was exactly contained within the circle of the disk; the handles, the tongue, the share—black against the molten red. There it was, heroic in size, a picture writing on the sun.
Related Characters: Jim Burden (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Prairie, The Plough, Light
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 3, Chapter 1 Quotes
I knew that I should never be a scholar. I could never lose myself for long among impersonal things. Mental excitement was apt to send me with a rush back to my own naked land and the figures scattered upon it.
Related Characters: Jim Burden (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Prairie
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 4 Quotes
As I went back alone over that familiar road, I could almost believe that a boy and girl ran along beside me, as our shadows used to do, laughing and whispering to each other in the grass.
Related Characters: Jim Burden (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Prairie
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
Get the entire My Antonia LitChart as a printable PDF.
My antonia.pdf.medium

Jim Burden Character Timeline in My Antonia

The timeline below shows where the character Jim Burden appears in My Antonia. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Introduction
The Past Theme Icon
An unnamed narrator begins the novel. He says he grew up with Jim, the story's protagonist, in Nebraska. Now they both live in New York, but do not... (full context)
The Past Theme Icon
The narrator says he ran into Jim again last summer on a train in Iowa. Jim kept bringing up Ántonia, an immigrant... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 1
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
Ten-year-old Jim Burden, the novel's narrator and protagonist, begins his story on a train from Virginia's Blue... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
During the journey, the conductor mentions to Jim that in the "immigrant car" ahead of him there is a European family from "across... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
The train arrives in Black Hawk at night. As Jim and Jake exit the train, Jim sees what must be the family, huddled on the... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
The Prairie Theme Icon
Otto Fuchs, Jim's grandfather's hired man, meets the boys at the station in a wagon to bring them... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 2
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
The Prairie Theme Icon
Otto tells Jim his grandparents have bought him a pony, and tells Jim he will show him how... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
The Prairie Theme Icon
The next morning, Jim explores the farm and sees the windmill, cornfields, and pig-yards. He learns that his grandparents'... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 3
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
That Sunday Otto Fuchs drives Jim and his grandmother to bring bread and provisions to the immigrant family they met on... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
The Prairie Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
...the adults 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... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 4
Friendship Theme Icon
The Prairie Theme Icon
As Jim settles into his new home, he begins to run errands for the Burdens and rides... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
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,... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 6
Friendship Theme Icon
The Prairie Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
Weeks pass, and Jim's friendship with Ántonia continues to develop. In what he describes as "the magical light of... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
The Prairie Theme Icon
Just then, Jim and Ántonia see Mr. Shimerda walking toward them. He has shot three rabbits, but he... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 7
Friendship Theme Icon
The Prairie Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
Jim and Ántonia visit Peter to borrow a spade. On the way home, they decide to... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 8
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
That autumn, Ántonia tells Jim that Peter is worried about the growing interest on his mortgage debt to his creditor,... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
Mr. Shimerda, Ántonia, and Jim stay at Pavel's bedside. Aware that he is dying, Pavel confesses to Ántonia, Jim, and... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
The Prairie Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
...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 Peter. (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 9
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
The Prairie Theme Icon
Winter arrives, beautiful but bitterly cold. After the first snowfall, Jim rides to the Shimerdas' house on a sleigh Otto has built for him. He takes... (full context)
The Prairie Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
Although Jim is also growing colder on the sleigh ride, he is too proud to show it.... (full context)
Friendship Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
Stuck inside for two weeks, Jim eagerly awaits the return of the men from the fields each night. He admires how... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 10
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
The Prairie Theme Icon
Jim does not see Ántonia for weeks. One night, the Burdens learn that the Shimerdas are... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 11
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
The Prairie Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
...Rather than do their Christmas shopping in town, the Burdens have a homemade "country Christmas." Jim's grandmother bakes gingerbread and Jim makes picture books for Ántonia and Yulka from magazine clippings... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...he brings a little cedar Christmas tree he has cut down as a present for Jim. The Burdens decorate the tree with paper doll figures Otto's mother has sent him from... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 12
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
...Burdens to thank them for the presents. As they sit in front of the stove, Jim notices that the warmth and security of their house seem "completely to take possession" of... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
Before he leaves, Mr. Shimerda kneels before the tree and crosses himself. Jim knows his grandfather is uncomfortable with other people's religions, but his grandfather quietly tolerates Mr.... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 13
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
...But Mrs. Shimerda is angry and jealous of the Burdens' nice house, and rudely asks Jim's grandmother for one of her pots. Jim's grandmother gives it to her. Jim thinks Mrs.... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
Jim snaps at Ántonia when she complains that Mr. Shimerda is sick. He tells her, "People... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 14
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
The Prairie Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
Two days after Jim's birthday, he wakes up to find his grandparents, Otto, and Jake in the kitchen, with... (full context)
Friendship Theme Icon
The Prairie Theme Icon
Otto goes to Black Hawk to get the priest and the coroner, and Jim's grandparents go to bring food to the Shimerdas. (full context)
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
The Prairie Theme Icon
When the adults return that night, they tell Jim that a lighted lantern has been kept over Mr. Shimerda's body until the priest arrives... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 15
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...Otto returns from town, bringing with him a handsome young Bohemian man named Anton Jelinek. Jim immediately likes Anton's "bright" eyes and cheeks and warm personality. Anton says he had wanted... (full context)
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
...the Shimerdas, says it is very important to have a priest bless the body, but Jim's grandfather argues that Christ is the only savior a soul needs. Anton responds that he... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 17
The Prairie Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
...and the farmers set their pastures on fire so that new grass can be planted. Jim says that the lights of the fires seem to represent "the kindling that was in... (full context)
The Prairie Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
...and other neighbors helped them build. They also have a new windmill and chicken-house, and Jim's grandfather gave them a cow, to be paid for after the harvest. Mrs. Shimerda has... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
That spring, Ántonia turns 15, and Jim notices she is no longer a child. She has grown tan and strong while working... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 18
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Jim starts school and sees less of Ántonia. One Sunday, Jake takes him to the Shimerdas... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 19
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
When school is out in midsummer, Jim and Ántonia spend more time together. One night Jim and Ántonia climb to the roof... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 1
The Prairie Theme Icon
When Jim turns 13, his grandparents decide to move to town because they are getting too old... (full context)
Friendship Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
...prospectors. They leave after the Burdens move and send a postcard a few months later. Jim never hears from them again. (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 2
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
Jim and his grandparents befriend their new neighbors, the Harlings, who are Norwegians. Mr. Harling is... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 4
Gender Theme Icon
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 to work... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 5
The Prairie Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
Jim sees Lena often downtown. She says she is thrilled to live in town, and tells... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 6
The Prairie Theme Icon
That winter, Jim spends many evenings at the Harlings, playing games and listening to Ántonia's stories. One night,... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 8
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
...dancing frenzy ensues. Ántonia and the other "hired girls" love the pavilion, which is, as Jim notes, "a place where the girls could wear their new dresses, and where one could... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 9
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
Jim notices how all the young men are attracted to the hired immigrant girls, who continue... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience 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... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 11
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
Jim says that the Cutters are disliked by nearly everyone in Black Hawk. Wick Cutter is... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 12
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
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,... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
Jim starts sneaking out at night to attend the Fireman's Hall, where the immigrants gather to... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 13
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
At his graduation, Jim gives a speech that is very well received. His grandparents and the Harlings congratulate him.... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 14
Friendship Theme Icon
The Prairie Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
That summer Jim spends all his time inside studying, preparing for university. He only takes a break from... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
The Prairie Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
That evening, as the sun is setting, Jim, Ántonia and the other girls see a black figure on the prairie magnified by the... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 15
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
...to Omaha for a few days, leaving Ántonia behind to watch the house. Ántonia visits Jim and his grandparents, worried because Mr. Cutter left a great deal of silver in the... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 1
The Prairie Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
Jim attends university at Lincoln (the capital of Nebraska) and begins to study Latin under a... (full context)
The Prairie Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
Jim calls this first year at university a time of "mental awakening." For a while, his... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 2
The Prairie Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
One March evening during his sophomore year, Jim and Cleric read a passage from Virgil about "patria," which Cleric tells Jim is not... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
That same night, Lena appears at Jim's door. She explains that she has opened a dressmaking shop in Lincoln and is finally... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 3
The Prairie Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
Lena and Jim go to the theater often that spring, although Lena insists on paying for her own... (full context)
Friendship Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
At the theater, Jim feels "like a man" with Lena. When Jim and Lena see a performance of Dumas's... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 4
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
Lena's success in dressmaking grows, and Jim begins to visit her for dinner. He notices that there is some tension between Lena's... (full context)
The Prairie Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
As the semester comes to an end, Cleric tells Jim that he was offered a position at Harvard, and suggests that Jim accompany him. Jim... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 2
The Prairie Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
When Jim takes his grandparents to have their photograph taken a few days later, he notices a... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 3
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Gender Theme Icon
Jim goes to visit the Widow Steavens, who tells Jim Ántonia's story. Ántonia was preparing for... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 4
Friendship Theme Icon
The Prairie Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
The next day, Jim goes to see Ántonia at the Shimerda's farm. She is thinner and looks "worked down."... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 1
The Past Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
Jim avoids going back to see Ántonia for 20 years, afraid to find her "aged and... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
The Prairie Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
Jim stops in Nebraska on the way back from his business trip. When he arrives at... (full context)
The Prairie Theme Icon
Ántonia shows Jim the apple orchard. She tells Jim that she and her husband planted all the trees,... (full context)
Friendship Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
Ántonia shows Jim old photographs of her wedding day, including photos of Ambrosch and Lena. Then she shows... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 2
Friendship Theme Icon
The Prairie Theme Icon
...home from town with his oldest son. Though Cuzak is far from a handsome man, Jim notices that he and Ántonia have a marriage of "easy friendliness." (full context)
Friendship Theme Icon
The Prairie Theme Icon
During dinner, Cuzak and his boys tell Jim how Wick Cutter had killed his wife and then shot himself, making sure to wait... (full context)
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
The Prairie Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
After dinner, Jim walks with Cuzak outside and asks about his life. Cuzak admits that when he first... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 3
Friendship Theme Icon
The Prairie Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon
Jim leaves Ántonia's farm the next day, promising to return soon to visit Ántonia, Cuzak, and... (full context)
The Prairie Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
Jim takes the train to Black Hawk, but finds that most of his old friends have... (full context)