My Antonia

who were the hired girls?

book 2

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Jim describes the social situation of the hired girls in this chapter. The hired girls from the country had generally made sacrifices in order to help their families survive their first year or two in a new country, and they were therefore less educated than their younger siblings. They were, however, wise, mature, and physically vigorous, and were thus different from typical Black Hawk women. Black Hawk women never exerted themselves physically and were more refined, but they were less attractive to Black Hawk men than the hired girls. Though their families might be poor, these American girls were not allowed to work for wages, as the Bohemian and Scandinavian girls did. As a result, the Bohemian and Scandinavian families quickly became prosperous, but they were still faced with small-town prejudice in Black Hawk.