The narrator of the novel, Jim comes to Nebraska as a young child to live with his grandparents on the frontier. The novel is the story of his relationship with an immigrant girl Ántonia, who he idealizes and admires.
Jim's grandfather is a solemn, kindly man with simple religious beliefs. He has lived on the frontier for ten years when Jim comes to live with him and later moves the family to Black Hawk.
Jim's grandmother is a very generous and tolerant woman, even though she does not always agree with or understand the customs of her Bohemian neighbors.
A few years older than Jim, Ántonia arrives with her family in Nebraska at the same time as Jim. She is a strong and independent young girl who is proud to work her family's farm, even though it makes her seem masculine to Jim. After having a child out of wedlock, she stays in the country and remarries, having many children.
Ántonia's father used to be an educated musician back in his native Bohemia and is unhappy in his new country, where he knows nothing about farming. He loves Ántonia dearly but kills himself in the middle of the family's first winter in America.
Ántonia's mother is a boastful and demanding woman, even though her family is poor in America. Her household habits appall Jim's grandmother.
Ántonia's brother is kind of a brute, although his religious piety comes out after his father's suicide. He makes Ántonia work the land and is sometimes stingy about supporting her.
Russian Peter and Pavel
These two bachelors live and work together. They become friends with the Shimerdas because they speak a similar dialect. After Pavel dies and tells a shocking story on his deathbed, Peter is brokenhearted and moves away.
One of the "hired girls"immigrant girls who work for wages in Black HawkLena has a bad reputation when she is growing up. Jim dates her for awhile during college, and afterwards Lena becomes a very successful dressmaker and moves to San Francisco.
A very stingy and lecherous man, Wick Cutter hires girls, such as Ántonia, to work in his house and tries to sleep with them. He and his wife fight constantly about money, and he eventually kills her and then himself in order to prevent her from inheriting any money.
Gaston is Jim's instructor and mentor in college, and the two spend a lot of time in conversation. Jim eventually follows Gaston to Harvard to finish his studies. At the end of the novel, Jim mentions in passing that Gaston died of pneumonia.
My Antonia Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for My Antonia is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Jim's first impression of the Nebraska frontier is that it is extremely vast and empty. He feels like he is leaving civilization, and he is. Everything that happens to him in Nebraska will be a new experience, and he will have to learn new rules...