My Antonia

My Antonia


Willa Cather

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My Antonia: Book 1, Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Mr. Shimerda eventually befriends two Russian neighbors, Pavel and Peter, whom others in the region had avoided because 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 him "hospitable and jolly." Peter, thrilled by the company, shows them his garden, entertains them with a harmonica, and gives them gifts of cucumbers and milk. Jim has only eaten cucumbers raw before, but Ántonia assures him that cucumbers cooked in milk are delicious.
Until now, Jim has been Ántonia's guide to the prairie and American life. In this chapter, their roles reverse—Ántonia introduces Jim to immigrant culture on the prairie. Jim's surprise at Peter's friendly hospitality shows that he, like other English speakers on the prairie, is somewhat suspicious of the immigrants. Yet Ántonia's friendship and his natural openness helps Jim overcome his suspicions.
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Literary Devices