According to the introduction (of Willa Cather's My Antonia), what does Antonia represent to Jim and the narrator (of the introduction)?

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The introduction of Willa Cather's My Antonia tells of the narrator's visit with Jim Burden over the summer of the previous year. The narrator (Cather) goes on to state that meetings with Jim are few: Jim is busy and the narrator does not like Jim's wife.

As the introduction progresses, Cather and Jim are speaking about Antonia. Jim asks why nothing had ever been written about her. Cather confesses that she did not know Antonia very well, and, now, she wished to change that. She asked Jim to write down the things he knew of Antonia, and she would do the same. Months later, Jim returns with a "bulging legal portfolio," while Cather has only written "a few straggling notes."

For both Cather and Jim, Antonia was the "central figure" of their childhood. Antonia represented "the country, the conditions, the whole adventure of our childhood." She was the memory for both which spoke to their past.