Study Guide

My Ántonia Book 1, Chapter 18

By Willa Cather

Book 1, Chapter 18

  • Jim sees even less of the Shimerdas after he starts going to school in town. He rides into town every day and has made some friends among his classmates, which he considers revenge against Ántonia. He doesn't like that Ambrosch is influencing Ántonia more and more.
  • One event caused a rift between the Shimerdas and the Burdens. One day Jim and Jake rode over to the Shimerdas to get a horse-collar back that Ambrosch had borrowed. The whole family is working hard when they arrive.
  • At first, Ambrosch tries to say that he doesn't have the collar. But Jake insists. Jim can tell that Ambrosch is in a mean mood. Ambrosch comes back with a ratty old horse-collar, and Jake is angry since he loaned him a nice horse-collar.
  • Ambrosch drops the collar on the ground and turns to leave. Jake grabs him and pulls him back and the two start to fight. Ambrosch fights dirty, and Jake ends up smacking him in the head.
  • Ántonia and her mother come running. Mrs. Shimerda is yelling for the law, while Ántonia tells Jim that they aren't friends anymore. Jake calls them ungrateful and the two of them ride back home. On the way, Jake explains that you can't ever trust foreigners. Jim agrees he will never be friends with a foreigner again.
  • Grandfather listens to the story but seems amused by it. He tells Jake to ride into town tomorrow and pay the fine for knocking a man down. He also tells him to take a pig to market that he's been fattening up for selling.
  • The Shimerdas ride to town the next day to try and get Jake in trouble for slapping Ambrosch, but Jake gets to town first to pay the fine and so it's already taken care of. Ambrosch finds out that Jake sold a pig the same day and he thinks that the Burdens were forced to sell their pig to pay the fine (which they were not). The Shimerdas take great pleasure in taunting the Burdens about this.
  • Otto is unfazed by the Shimerdas' behavior, because he says Austrians know what Czechs are like.
  • Grandfather never took part in the feud between the two families. He always treated the Shimerdas well.
  • In June Ambrosch and Marek work for hire at Mr. Bushy's. That leaves Ántonia and Mrs. Shimerda to do the work at their own farm. One of their horses gets sick and so Ántonia rides over to the Burdens one night to get help. Grandfather goes with her to the farm and cures the horse.
  • Later they learn that Ambrosch gave the wages he earned working at Mr. Bushy's to a priest to pray for his father's soul. Grandmother thinks this is foolish, but Grandfather admires it.
  • Finally Grandfather gets the two families to reconcile. He decides to hire Ambrosch to help him in the fields and Ántonia to help in the kitchen. He brings Jim over there to make arrangements in person.
  • They head over after breakfast. Mrs. Shimerda sees them coming and hides behind the stable, but Grandfather just ties up his horse and follows her. They find her trying to hide the cow she bought from Grandfather. Grandfather ignores this and greets her. He asks where they can find Ambrosch.
  • Mrs. Shimerda points them in the direction of the North field and says Ántonia is there, too. Grandfather explains that he wants to hire both of them. Then he tells her they can call it even on the cow, that she doesn't owe him any more money.
  • Mrs. Shimerda kisses Grandfather's hand as a thank-you. As they drive away, Grandfather says she probably thought they were coming to take the cow back.
  • The next day Mrs. Shimerda comes over to the Burdens' to bring Jake a pair of socks she knitted. She clearly wants to make peace, though she still taunts Jake about having to sell the pig to pay for slapping Ambrosch.
  • Jake is unruffled, and says that it's fine with him and she can have the last word.