Study Guide

My Ántonia Book 1, Chapter 16

By Willa Cather

Book 1, Chapter 16

  • On the fifth day after his suicide Mr. Shimerda is finally buried. On Friday Anton helps Ambrosch to dig the grave. On Saturday Jake and Anton have to pry the frozen body off the ground.
  • Grandmother and Jim go to visit the Shimerdas; the women are there alone. Ántonia is very sad and clings to Jim. Mrs. Shimerda sits by the window and watches all the people arriving. It starts to snow.
  • When it's time to go outside for the funeral Ántonia wears the rabbit-skin hat that her father made for her. The men carry the body in the coffin up the hill. Mrs. Shimerda prays over the body, as do the other members of their family. Mrs. Shimerda tries to get Yulka to look at the dead body, but Grandmother intervenes and says that she doesn't have to. Then they nail down the top of the box over the dead body.
  • Ántonia comforts her little sister. The coffin is placed into a wagon and everyone goes with it to the grave site where they lower it down. Mrs. Shimerda wants Grandfather to say a prayer over the body. He complies. He asks that God forgive this man and says that men don't have the right to judge other men.
  • Then Grandmother asks Otto to sing, so he delivers a religious song.
  • Narrator-Jim comments that years later the roads ran nearby to where Mr. Shimerda was buried. Jim always liked to look at that spot, and it always had a lot of emotional weight for him.