book 1 chapters 15-19
Answers 1Add Yours
Winter finally brings a horrible tragedy to the Shimerdas and the Burdens: Mr. Shimerda's suicide. While it may seem inexplicable why a loving, caring father, as Mr. Shimerda most decidedly was, would leave his family helpless and bereaved in the middle of the worst winter in ten years, his action is understandable when considered as a last, desperate attempt at communication. While Mr. Shimerda was unable to make his family prosper, by killing himself he is making one final plea for help. His neighbors will literally have to take care of his family now and help them survive the winter and coming spring. They will know that the Shimerda situation is dire and will realize exactly how much assistance the family needs. Paradoxically, by killing himself and depriving his family of their head of household, he is ensuring that his wife and children will be thoroughly taken care of.
While Jim is very respectful of Christianity and organized religion, in this chapter he experiences a feeling stronger than any religious sentiment he ever feels: the sense that Mr. Shimerda's ghost is present in the house. He knows that Mr. Shimerda is homesick and through death, wanted to return to his homeland and the pleasant places he knew in life, like the Burden household. This sensation is so strong that Jim adamantly disbelieves Ambrosch's assertion that his father's soul is trapped in Purgatory. His awareness of Mr. Shimerda's presence in the house indicates how the closeness and depth of emotion between Jim and the Shimerdas.