How we cite our quotes:
[Jake:] `He's a worker, all right, ma'm, and he's got some ketch-on about him; but he's a mean one. Folks can be mean enough to get on in this world; and then, ag'in, they can be too mean.' (1.10.33)
Much of Ambrosch's character can be attributed to the suffering he's experienced. He's toughened up because of men like Krajiek who have taken advantage of him. Others, however, like Ántonia, manage to be tough without being mean.
The crazy boy went with them, because he did not feel the cold. I believed he felt cold as much as anyone else, but he liked to be thought insensible to it. He was always coveting distinction, poor Marek! (1.14.29)
Some characters feel that bearing rough conditions makes them tougher or better people. Indeed, Jim does admire Ántonia for these reasons later on in the novel.
Nevertheless, after I went to bed, this idea of punishment and Purgatory came back on me crushingly. I remembered the account of Dives in torment, and shuddered. But Mr. Shimerda had not been rich and selfish: he had only been so unhappy that he could not live any longer. (1.14.last paragraph)
Mr. Shimerda's suicide shows that not everyone can deal with suffering the way characters like Ambrosch or Ántonia can. There are real costs, for Mr. Shimerda and for his family, for the lives they all lead.