Study Guide

My Ántonia Book 2, Chapter 10

By Willa Cather

Book 2, Chapter 10

  • Until the dances began, Ántonia wasn't considered one of the more attractive hired girls. She was just a girl who worked for and lived with the Harlings.
  • But once the dances start, she begins hanging out with Tiny and Lena a lot. Also, she is a great dancer. The boys start to talk about her the same way they talk about Tiny.
  • Ántonia is in love with the dances. She becomes a bit irresponsible around the house in her excitement.
  • Everyone always waits to dance with Ántonia at the Vannis'.
  • Trouble begins. Delivery boys who come to the Harlings' stay longer because they want to flirt with Ántonia. Boys come to visit her to ask for dances. Sometimes the boys who walk her home on Saturday night wake Mr. Harling up with their voices.
  • One Saturday night Mr. Harling hears a scuffle and slap on the porch. It turns out that Ántonia was with a boy named Harry Paine. He is engaged to be married on Monday, but Ántonia let him walk her home from the dance because she thought he was just a nice guy. When he tried to kiss her she fought and slapped him.
  • Mr. Harling is not happy to hear this. He tells Ántonia that she brought this on herself by hanging out with girls like Lena and Tiny who have bad reputations. He tells her that she's not allowed to go to the dances anymore if she wants to live with them.
  • Ántonia decides to leave the Harlings' rather than stop going to the dances. Frances and her mother try to get her to change her mind, but Ántonia is adamant. She says that she's going to go work for Wick Cutter.
  • Mrs. Harling warns her against this, since Cutter has a reputation for knocking up the girls who work for him. She tells Ántonia that if she goes to work for Cutter, she's not allowed to come back to the Harlings'.
  • Ántonia argues that she has to take her good times when she can get them. She worries there won't be a dancing tent next year.
  • Mrs. Harling warns her again that she might get pregnant if she works for Cutter.
  • Mrs. Harling is angry at Ántonia for her decision. She says she wishes that she had never gotten to like the girl so much.