Study Guide

My Ántonia Book 2, Chapter 2

By Willa Cather

Book 2, Chapter 2

  • Grandmother really likes the Harlings as neighbors. They used to be farming people, too, and are Norwegian. Mr. Harling is a merchant and one of the most enterprising men in the county. He's away a lot on business.
  • Mrs. Harling is strong and sturdy and energetic. She has bright eyes. They have lots of children, three of them close to Jim's age. Charley is sixteen, Julia is fourteen, and Sally is thirteen and a tomboy. Frances is their adult daughter and manages her father's business. She's very good at it. Sometimes she comes over to talk with Grandfather and together they figure out a way to save someone from Wick Cutter, the money-lender.
  • Frances is also good at making women happy; she can get people to talk to her and she always attends social events.
  • In August the Harlings' cook leaves and that's when Grandmother gets them to hire Ántonia. She has to convince Ambrosch to let this happen.
  • Mrs. Harling rides out to the Shimerdas' farm one day to see Mrs. Shimerda. She likes Ántonia and she thinks that Mrs. Shimerda is amusing.
  • They argue with Ambrosch to arrange the work. He wants to get every cent of Ántonia's wages himself, but Mrs. Harling wants Ántonia to get some of the money herself. Finally they work it out.
  • Mrs. Harling thinks Ántonia is pretty and decides to bring out some of her feminine side, also known as the cooking and cleaning side. Grandmother laments that Ántonia has led such a difficult life since her father died.
  • Mrs. Harling wants to know all the details of Mr. Shimerda's suicide, so Grandmother tells her.
  • Mrs. Harling says that Ántonia will be happy working for her.