My Antonia

My Antonia


Willa Cather

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on My Antonia makes teaching easy.

My Antonia: Book 1, Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

The week before Christmas, a heavy snowfall makes the roads impassable. 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 and cards he brought to Nebraska from his "old country" of Virginia. Jake brings the presents to the Shimerdas on horseback.
Jim sees Virginia as another country entirely and considers himself an immigrant. Although he doesn't seem to realize it, his "immigrant" experience is completely unlike the Shimerdas'. Though stranded in their house, the Burdens have the resources for a comfortable holiday, while the Shimerdas suffer.
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
The Prairie Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
Literary Devices
When Jake returns home, 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 Austria over the years. As the narrator, Jim says the paper dolls are his fondest memory of the holiday.
Jim recognizes his first holiday as a fusion of two cultural traditions. His observation shows how the prairie, like America itself, served as a "melting pot" of various immigrant cultures.
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon