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In this chapter we are introduced to Lena Lingard, who knows what she wants to do with her life. She sees marriage as a hindrance and a burden, and she is determined to remain unmarried in order to become a successful dressmaker. She believes that by remaining single she will be able to answer to herself only and to better support her mother, and she ends up doing just that. She is able to surpass her bad reputation through determination, hard work, and independence, though no one expects her to succeed. When Jim meets Lena later in college, he casually dates her and even believes that in doing so, he is saving her from pregnancy and a stifling marriage.
Like Ántonia, Lena is a child of the country. She farms the land, which nurtures her until she grows into a voluptuous and fertile young woman. And it is fitting that Ole Benson becomes obsessed with her as she is working the soil, alone in her fields. For part of what makes Ántonia, Lena, and the other immigrant girls so appealing is that they are so much a part of the land. However, unlike Ántonia, Lena tries to break free of the pull of the land and achieves a measure of worldly success.