book 1 chapters 10-14
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One day Otto says that he saw Mr. Shimerda hunting, wearing the one winter coat that the whole family shares. Apparently the family is so poor that they eat prairie dogs, so the next day Grandmother decides to bring over food and chickens. When they arrive, Mrs. Shimerda speaks accusingly to them in Bohemian and shows them how little food they have. The dugout house is dingy and sad.
When Jake brings in the food, Mrs. Shimerda begins to weep. Grandmother is appalled to discover that the girls sleep in a small cave in the dirt wall, and Mr. Shimerda, with Ántonia translating, explains that in the old country they were a very respectable family.