Study Guide

My Ántonia Book 1, Chapter 13

By Willa Cather

Book 1, Chapter 13

  • In the next week the land finally thaws out, and everything is slushy by New Year's. Jim starts doing his regular chores again. One morning Ántonia and Mrs. Shimerda come over; Ántonia's mother has never been in the Burdens' house before. She runs around looking at everything and ends up taking one of their pots on the grounds that they have several and she has none. Jim resents that his grandmother lets them take it.
  • After dinner Mrs. Shimerda tells Grandmother that if she had all the luxuries grandmother had, she would make much better food than Grandmother does. Jim isn't happy about this either.
  • Ántonia tells Jim that her father is very sad, because he misses his old country. He doesn't even play his violin anymore because he hates this country.
  • Jim responds that people who don't like this country should have stayed home.
  • Ántonia explains that her mother made them come to America, thinking they would make a lot of money here. Then they argue about whether or not Jim's grandparents ought to have to help the Shimerdas. Ántonia thinks they should help because, once Ambrosch is rich, he'll pay them back.
  • We learn that Ambrosch is the main man of the family. He calls the shots and they pin their hopes on his future.
  • After the Shimerdas leave, Jim expresses his anger at Mrs. Shimerda to his grandmother. She tells him that poverty brings out different things in people. Then she makes him read religious literature.
  • The weather remains good for three weeks. The bulls start fighting each other because they think it's spring. Fuchs has to pitchfork them apart.
  • On Jim's eleventh birthday, a giant blizzard begins. The men make themselves some shovels and Jim has to stay inside and let the men do the outdoor chores.
  • The next day the men shovel all morning to clear the snow. It's the biggest storm in ten years. They decide not to go out and feed the cattle. After dinner Jake and Otto dig a tunnel through the snow to the hen house so that Grandmother and Jim can walk there to get eggs. They don't finish the chores until 5pm.