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Characters

Meet the Cast

Jim Burden

Jim begins My Ántonia as a recently orphaned ten-year-old moving from Virginia to Nebraska. Already we see that Jim is just beginning a number of adventures – he's embarking on a trip to...

Ántonia Shimerda

Ántonia as a SymbolAs the nameless narrator tells us early in the introduction, Ántonia is as much a symbol as she is a character:[Ántonia was] a Bohemian girl whom we had known long...

Lena Lingard

(Note: according to the Oxford World Classics edition of My Ántonia, this character has no historical basis.)Like Ántonia, Lena, too, is one of the immigrant "hired girls" who comes to to...

Mr. Shimerda

Mr. Shimerda is not a happy man. Jim's keen emotional sensitivity allows him to pick up on this early in the novel. In addition, there are several conversations between him and Ántonia that fo...

Jim's Grandparents

Jim's grandfather is distinguished by his religious nature. We don't get a lot of description here, so let's take a close look at the little text we have:My grandfather said little. When he first c...

Ambrosch Shimerda

Ambrosch is Ántonia's oldest brother, and not the nicest guy you'll ever meet. Jake says it best: "He's a worker, […] and he's got some ketch-on about him; but he's a mean one. Folks can...

Mrs. Shimerda

In the Shimerda family, Ántonia is often paired with her father while Mrs. Shimerda is paired with her son Ambrosch. Ántonia and her father are more sensitive and kind, while Mrs. Shimerd...

Yulka Shimerda

In My Ántonia, Yulka is Ántonia's younger sister, who we learn is mild and obedient. She is a minor character, and we don't even hear her speak. One of the important things she does is de...

Marek Shimerda

Marek is another minor character in the novel. He is a physically and mentally disabled child of the Shimerda family. He doesn't talk but sometimes making hooting noises. Because of his disability,...

Mr. and Mrs. Cutter

Mr. and Mrs. Cutter are just about the most unpleasant couple you will ever meet. Mr. Cutter cheats on his wife constantly and connives to make sure that her family won't get any of his inheritance...

The Harlings

The Harlings are a family in Black Hawk that Ántonia goes to work for when she first comes to town. They provide an example of a successful, more "urban" family (compared to the farming famili...

Tiny Soderball

Tiny is another of the "hired girls," immigrant girls who comes to town to work in order to support their families. Tiny works at a men's boarding house, much to the concern of families like the Ha...

Peter and Pavel

Peter and Pavel are the two Russian farmers who live close to Jim and Ántonia. They are important characters in that they provide another view of the immigrant life. These two men came to Amer...

Gaston Cleric

Gaston Cleric is Jim's teacher and close mentor in college. We don't know too much about him, other than that he teaches Jim to appreciate Latin. Jim is impressed with Cleric's intellectual prowess...

The Widow Steavens

The Widow Steavens is an older woman who lives in Jim's grandparent's house after they move to town. The most important role this character plays is to update Jim on Ántonia.

Jake Marpole

Jake is a farmhand who moves with Jim out to the country to work for his grandparents. Jake's situation is parallel to that of Jim's in that he has a limited experience of the world at the novel's...

Otto Fuchs

Otto Fuchs is a farmhand who works for Jim's grandparents. Jim admires him as a quintessential cowboy. In this way, Otto embodies the ideals of masculinity that are lacking in the far more passive...

Larry Donovan

Larry Donovan is a passenger conductor on the railroad and sort of professional ladies' man. Ántonia ends up completely infatuated with him, and so he takes advantage of her. Larry asks her to...

Anton Cuzak

Cuzak is Ántonia's husband. Jim approves of Cuzak when he gets to meet him at the end of the novel. Jim thinks that Cuzak and Ántonia get along well together and complement each other. We...
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