On the prairie, Jim and Ántonia's friendship is uncomplicated by the experiences and prejudices of adulthood. Though they come from different backgrounds and social classes and are members of the opposite sex, they are too young for these differences to matter. Though Jim clings to the simplicities of youth, he can't stop time's advance and the maturity it brings.
Jim and Ántonia's move from the prairie into town signifies their first steps toward adulthood, and as they mature they grow farther apart. Both characters struggle with the emotional, physical, and sexual changes of adolescence. For Ántonia, the death of her father, the social complexities of town life, and an unexpected pregnancy force her into an early maturity. On the other hand, Jim's entrance into adulthood comes largely when he leaves Black Hawk for college. It is only when he moves to Lincoln (the capital of Nebraska) and has his first serious relationship with a woman, Lena, that Jim begins to view his childhood friendship with Ántonia as the purest, most uncomplicated love one person can have for another.
Innocence and Maturity ThemeTracker
Innocence and Maturity Quotes in My Antonia
"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).