Weeks pass, and Jim's friendship with Ántonia continues to develop. In what he describes as "the magical light of the late afternoon", he and "Tony" (Ántonia) have their reading lessons and watch the badgers and the rabbits play. One afternoon, Ántonia picks up a frail, feebly chirping grasshopper that brings tears to her eyes because it reminds her of an old woman from her village who would sing songs to the children.
Jim's nickname for Ántonia shows that their friendship has deepened. Ántonia's sadness over the insect's song reflects her greater dilemma—she is caught between her love for the prairie and nostalgia for the past. The grasshopper and the sinking sun symbolize the fragility and fleeting nature of life.
Just then, Jim and Ántonia see Mr. Shimerda walking toward them. He has shot three rabbits, but he seems sad, and Ántonia tells Jim that her father is not well. Mr. Shimerda tells Jim he will give Jim his gun someday. Jim is surprised at the Shimerda family's willingness to give away all they have to others.
Mr. Shimerda is a tragic fragile character who can be compared to the grasshopper. But, just as the grasshopper would still chirp for Ántonia and Jim despite its frailty, Mr. Shimerda remains generous and loving.