My Antonia

My Antonia

by

Willa Cather

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My Antonia: Book 1, Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
On Christmas morning the Burdens eat waffles and play dominos. Otto writes a letter to his mother in Austria, but he has been gone so long that he struggles to remember the language.
Otto is an immigrant. Yet unlike Mr. Shimerda, who can't let go of his past, Otto has almost forgotten the language and traditions of his homeland.
Themes
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
Mr. Shimerda comes to visit the 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 Mr. Shimerda.
The warm and friendly house is comforting to Mr. Shimerda because it reminds him of his old comfortable life in Bohemia.
Themes
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
The Past 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. Shimerda's prayers and later tells Jim, "The prayers of all good people are good."
The Burdens are Protestant, and the Shimerdas are Catholic. This difference bothers Jim's grandfather, but not Jim. Jim's tolerance reflects the younger generations' ideals of acceptance and multiculturalism.
Themes
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Innocence and Maturity Theme Icon