One evening that autumn, a pretty well-dressed girl arrives at the Harlings. Ántonia and Jim are surprised to recognize her as Lena Lingard, a Norwegian girl who used to work on one of the nearby farms and would always dress raggedly. Lena proudly tells them she has a job with a dressmaker and is renting a room of her own. She tells Ántonia to visit her. Jim remembers that Lena used to be "talked about" for a scandal in which a married farmer fell in love with her and the farmer's wife physically attacked her, although Lena denied ever seducing the farmer.
Times are changing, and finding a good husband is no longer the goal of women everywhere. Lena represents the "new woman." While Ántonia tried to emulate men through physical work, Lena shows her how to enjoy the pleasures of a man's lifestyle—she dresses well, is promiscuous, has asserted her independence, and lives on her own.