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My Ántonia

My Ántonia

by Willa Cather

My Ántonia Book 1, Chapter 17 Summary

  • Spring arrives. It is different than the springs that Jim are used to in Virginia, because there aren't a lot of blooming flowers and budding trees. Everyone burns the grass so as to get rid of the old stuff before the new grass grows.
  • The Shimerda family now has a log house which was built in March with help from the neighbors. Mrs. Shimerda buys a cow from Grandfather, paying him 10 dollars and owing him 15.
  • In April Jim rides up to the Shimerdas' and is greeted by Yulka, to whom he is giving reading lessons. Mrs. Shimerda grills Jim for info about what the men are doing in the fields. Narrator-Jim expresses dislike for her.
  • He watches her cook and thinks it's funny that she wraps food in a comforter to keep it warm.
  • When the workday is over Ántonia comes in from the fields. Jim sees how much she has grown in the last eight months. She's wearing her father's old boots. She is very tan and muscular. She immediately starts telling Jim how much work she did that day. She says she wants to do more ploughing than Jake.
  • Jim says that he's there because Grandmother wants Ántonia to go to school next week. But Ántonia says he doesn't have time for learning, because she has to help around the barn like a man. But Jim sees that she is crying.
  • Jim worries that Ántonia will end up boastful like her mother.
  • Ántonia asks Jim to never forget her father, and he agrees he won't.
  • Jim stays for supper with the Shimerdas. Mrs. Shimerda complains that the cow Jim's grandfather sold her doesn't give as much milk as he said it would. Ambrosch complains that Jim's grandfather accused him of breaking a saw that he didn't. Jim knows this to be a lie. He also doesn't like that Ántonia is eating like a man.
  • He rides home. He hasn't seen much of Ántonia lately. He doesn't like that she's acting like a man in the fields, but Grandfather says that she will be a lot of help to her man someday.
  • Jim thinks about how Mr. Shimerda used to call out "My Ántonia!" (1.17.last paragraph).

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