Short-Answer Quizzes

Book I, Introduction and Chapters 1-10 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why does Cather have Jim Burden and the Bohemian immigrants arriving on the same train?

2. What is the significance of the train arriving at night?

3. Why does Jim want to be left alone in the garden?

4. To what does Jim compare the many-colored grasses on the prairie?

5. Why isn’t Mr. Shimerda’s fiddle of any use to him here?

6. What is the significance of the sunflower-lined roads?

7. Why does Jim visit trees “as if they were persons?”

8. Why does Cather choose to have the characters Pavel and Peter come from Russia?

9. Why does Cather have Antonia relay the tragic tale of the Russians to Jim?

10. Ms. Cather uses contrast to great effect in this section. Between what chapters do we see contrasts?

Answers
1. They are on a journey together, one that will ultimately forge a lasting friendship between Jim and Antonia.

2. Jim and the immigrants are strangers arriving in a new and savage land. The darkness emphasizes that they will have to struggle to make their way.

3. He feels a need for independence through his solitude with nature.

4. Jim compares the prairie to the ocean and its many-colored seaweeds.

5. Mr. Shimerda can’t make money playing it the way he did at home, and he has become too depressed to make music.

6. Legend tells of Mormons throwing sunflower seeds on their journey west, leaving a trail for others to follow in their quest to worship God.

7. Trees are rare on the prairie, and his love of nature makes him consider all life sacred.

8. The Russian language serves as a means for the Shimerdas to communicate with their neighbors and because Russia is a distant, cold, and isolated country. This works to foreshadow the tragedy that will befall not only Pavel and Peter, but Mr. Shimerda as well.

9. To show that they are still both separated by language, and to begin to show Antonia’s talent for storytelling.

10. We see contrasts between Chapters 3 and 4. The Shimerdas struggle to live on the land contrasting with Jim’s pleasant pony rides through the country. In Chapters 8 and 9, the tragic Russian tale contrasts with Otto Fuch’s humorous story. In Chapters 9 and 10, the Burden’s warm and cozy house contrasts with the Shimerda’s depressing cave.

Chapters 11-19 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is the significance of the snowstorm just before Christmas?

2. What is so unusual about Otto’s trunk?

3. Why does Mr. Shimerda arrive at the Burden’s alone?

4. What is the significance of the “false spring” just before the blizzard?

5. Name two places in this section where the narrator jumps forward in time.

6. When Antonia tells Jim of her father’s worsening depression, why does he feel little pity for him?

7. On the morning of the suicide, how does Jim know that something has happened?

8. Why doesn’t Grandmother Burden believe Mr. Shimerda could have killed himself?

9. What one thing makes Jake believe that Krajiek killed Mr. Shimerda?

10. How are Jim’s and Ambrosch’s concerns over the dead Mr. Shimerda related?

Answers
1. It cuts them off from the town and gives Jim a pleasant memory of a country Christmas.

2. Along with his boots and pistols, he keeps the delicate paper figures he takes out to decorate the tree.

3. Cather wants to reinforce his sense of isolation and loneliness.

4. It shows that there is “false hope” for things to get better, and things are going to change drastically.

5. At the end of Chapter 11, he jumps forward to say he’ll always remember Jake and Otto that Christmas; at the end of Chapter 16, he recalls Mr. Shimerda’s grave.

6. Jim is still angry at Mrs. Shimerda’s wanting other people’s things.

7. Jim hears excited voices in the kitchen as he awakes.

8. She always believed him to be considerate and that he wouldn’t want the burden of his death on anyone.

9. Krajiek’s axe fits the gash mark on Mr. Shimerda’s face.

10. They are both concerned about the flight of Mr. Shimerda’s soul; Jim believes it is in the house and wonders whether it will find its way back to the old country; Ambrosch is concerned it will not make it into heaven.

Book II, Chapters 1-8 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why does Grandfather Burden become a deacon of the church?

2. What became Jim’s “compensation” for his lost freedom?

3. How did Ambrosch Shimerda take advantage of Antonia’s reputation as a hard worker?

4. Why does Jim consider Frances Harling so important?

5. Why doesn’t Antonia want to give all of her allowance to Ambrosch?

6. Why did Mr. Harling take Mrs. Harling away to their room on the west wing?

7. What is the significance of the traveling salesmen?

8. What is the significance of the altercation between Lena Lingard and Crazy Mary?

9. How are Antonia and Mrs. Harling similar?

10. What is the significance of the blind slave that becomes a pianist?

Answers
1. It establishes his involvement in the community.

2. Jim can see the river from the house.

3. Ambrosch hired her out to other farms.

4. Jim considers her important because of her independence as a woman.

5. Antonia wants clothes and pocket money.

6. They go there to discuss business.

7. The appearance of the salesmen emphasizes the idea of movement and change.

8. It shows that Lena is becoming a woman.

9. They are both strong and independent and don’t try to imitate other people.

10. It serves as a metaphor: one must grope through the darkness to find one’s desires.

Chapters 9-15 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why did Jim want Lena to settle down with a town boy?

2. What reasons does Antonia give for wanting to work for the Cutters?

3. How did Wick Cutter say he got his start in life?

4. Under what condition does Mrs. Cutter threaten to leave Mr. Cutter?

5. Who does Jim compare to Snow White?

6. How does Tiny Soderball make Jim angry?

7. Who was the proprietor at the saloon that Jim visits?

8. Who does Jim consider “a professional ladies man?”

9. As Jim gets more lonely, who does he find for companionship?

10. Down by the river, with whom does Jim remember hunting?

Answers
1. To give all the country girls a better reputation in the town.

2. They pay more, they have no children, and the work is easy, giving her more free time.

3. Wick got his start by saving the money other men spent on cigars.

4. If he chopped down the cedar trees around the house and took away her privacy.

5. Antonia is compared to Snow White.

6. She tells the girls she heard that Jim’s grandmother wanted to make him a Baptist preacher.

7. Anton Jelinek, the Bohemian who visited the farm during Mr. Shimerda’s death.

8. Larry Donovan is a “professional ladies man.”

9. The telegrapher and the cigar-maker and his canaries.

10. Jim remembers hunting with Charley Harling.

Book III, Chapters 1-4 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why did Gaston Cleric move west?

2. What was so unsusal about Jim’s room in Lincoln?

3. What does Jim believe was “fatal” to Gaston Cleric’s “poetic gift”?

4. Why did Lena insist on paying her own way to the theatre?

5. What did Lena plan to do with the money she saved?

6. Where does Lena tell Jim Antonia is working?

7. What does Jim remember when he hears Lena laugh?

8. Why was Jim puzzled by Lena’s business success?

9. What was the significance of the umbrella Jim uses on his way back from the theatre?

10. Why does Lena like to be lonesome?

Answers
1. Gaston’s doctor suggested he move west in order to improve his health.

2. The small room was once a linen closet.

3. Jim believes Gaston’s “bursts of imaginative talk” prevented him from becoming a great poet.

4. She insists on paying her way because she was making good money and Jim was a student with little money.

5. She wants to build a house for her mother.

6. She is working at the hotel for Mrs. Gardener.

7. It makes Jim remember the laughter of all the hired girls.

8. Jim was puzzled because most business people are hard-nosed, but Lena is an easy-going person.

9. It was the present Mrs. Harling gave him for his graduation.

10. When she was a young girl, she never had time to herself.

Book IV, Chapters 1-5 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Where does Frances Harling tell Jim that Antonia is living?

2. What happened while Tiny Soderball was running her boarding house in Seattle?

3. What was the only thing that now interested Tiny?

4. Why did Tiny limp when she walked?

5. What does Jim notice about the picture of Antonia’s baby?

6. Why was Larry Donovan fired as a passenger conductor?

7. How did Larry Donovan treat his female passengers different from his male passengers?

8. What does Jim notice about the old pasture lands?

9. Who was in the basement when Mrs. Steavens and Jim went into the sitting room?

10. Who shows Jim Antonia’s baby?

Answers
1. Antonia has gone back to live on the farm.

2. Gold was discovered in Alaska.

3. Tiny was only interested in making money.

4. She lost some of her toes in the cold weather.

5. The picture is in a great gilt frame.

6. He was blacklisted for knocking down fares.

7. He was cold and distant toward the men and friendly toward the women.

8. It is being broken up into wheat fields and and corn fields.

9. Mrs. Steavens’ quiet brother was sitting in the basement reading his farm papers.

10. Yulka Shimerda shows Jim the baby.

Book V, Chapters 1-3 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What did Jim send Antonia when he was in Prague?

2. From what does Antonia make kolaches?

3. Where does the narrator tell us that life “comes and goes” at a farmhouse?

4. Where does the children’s teacher have the school picnic every year?

5. Who does Jim tell Antonia was once a great huntswoman but now shoots only clay pigeons?

6. What does Antonia do with her pictures of the old country?

7. What story does Charley Cuzak want Jim to tell?

8. How was Anton Cuzak dressed when Jim first met him?

9. What did the coroner find on Wick Cutter’s desk?

10. Who was Anton Cuzak’s cousin?

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(The entire section is 206 words.)