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by Willa Cather
Jim Burden Timeline and Summary
Jim, a lawyer from New York, travels by train through the West. He meets an old friend on the train and they reminisce about a girl they used to know named Ántonia. Jim says he'll write down his memories of Ántonia. Months later, Jim gives his memoir about Ántonia to his friend. It is called My Ántonia. We jump into the memoir to Jim as a ten-year-old. Because his parents have just died, Jim goes to live with his grandparents in Nebraska. Jim meets an immigrant family from Bohemia on the train to Black Hawk, Nebraska. Jim meets the Shimerdas and Ántonia. Jim meets his grandparents, Jake Marpole, and Otto Fuchs. Our protagonist learns to love Nebraska. Jim and his grandmother visit the Shimerdas, and Mr. Shimerda asks Jim to teach Ántonia English. Jim and Ántonia become friends. Jim rides his pony, Dude, and admires the sunflowers that were planted by Mormons on the road west. Jim meets Peter and Pavel, Russian immigrant farmers. Jim notices that Mr. Shimerda is depressed. Jim kills a giant rattlesnake and impresses Ántonia. Jim hears the wolf story about Peter and Pavel. Jim takes Ántonia and her sister for a sleigh ride. It He gives them his coat to wear and so catches cold. He visits the Shimerdas with his grandmother and sees that the family is not doing so well in the winter. Jim's grandmother give the Shimerdas food. Jim makes his own Christmas presents for the Shimerdas. Jim and his family celebrate Christmas. He fights with Ántonia for the first time. On Jim's eleventh birthday, a blizzard arrives. Jim discovers that Mr. Shimerda has committed suicide. While he waits alone in his house, he suspects that Mr. Shimerda's spirit is hanging around. Jim watches Otto build the coffin for Mr. Shimerda. He attends the funeral. Jim starts going to school in town. He and Ántonia share a moment on the roof during a lightning storm. Jim and his grandparents move into town, and Jim starts growing up. He becomes more of a guy and less of a twelve-year-old kid. When the hired girls come to town, Jim ends up hanging out with them. Jim listens as Ántonia tells a sad story about a guy who killed himself in a threshing machine. Jim goes to The Boy's Home to hear Blind d'Arnault play the piano. That night, he walks Ántonia home. Jim takes part in the town dances given by the visiting Italians. Jim muses on the town's social ladder. During his senior year of high school, Jim starts hanging around at saloons and fringe dances – until his grandmother makes him promise not to. Jim tries to kiss Ántonia one night, but she tells him not to. She also tells him to stay away from Lena. Jim has sexy dreams about Lena. Jim graduates from high school and gives a speech at the ceremony that impresses the country girls. He spends the summer preparing for college. Jim stays at the Cutter's one night in place of Ántonia and ends up getting smooched by Wick. He is both embarrassed and angry about the episode. Jim goes to college and studies under Gaston Cleric. During his sophomore year, Jim meets up with Lena again. They go on lots of sophisticated dates, including a play performance. Jim falls in love with Lena, much to the detriment of his studies. His teacher, Gaston, takes him to Harvard with him. So Jim goes to Harvard and graduates. Then he goes to law school. Then he goes home and finds out that Ántonia has had a child out of wedlock. He's disappointed in her. Jim goes to visit the Widow Steavens to find out more about Ántonia. He then goes to visit Ántonia. He decides that she means a lot to him, and promises to come back soon. Twenty years later, Jim comes back to see Ántonia. He meets Ántonia's crew of children and her husband. Before he leaves, he concludes that he and Ántonia share the incommunicable past.