Contrast Jim's and Lena's lives in Lincoln with their lives in Black Hawk in "My Antonia".

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lena goes to Black Hawk to work, while Jim, who is younger, goes to school there.  For Lena, Black Hawk is a welcome change, a relief from the chaos of home where "there were always too many children, a cross man, and work piling up" (Bk.III,Ch.4).  In contrast, Jim, who had spent his time on the prairie as an only child in his grandparents' house, is "suddenly put down among boys of (his) own age, (and finds) he (has) a great deal to learn" about interacting in the society of others (II,1).  Moving to Black Hawk is metaphorically a move towards solitude for Lena, while for Jim, it is a move away from being alone.

In Lincoln, Lena finds her niche.  A thriving dressmaker, she evidently hs "great natural aptitude for her work", even though she has never seemed to have had "the push and self-assertiveness that get people ahead in business" (III,4).  Jim, on the other hand, is attending University in Lincoln but is not happy, knowing that he "should never be a scholar" (III,1).  Lena is focused and fulfilled, while Jim is "drifting" and "(un)interested in (his) classes" (III,4).  Lena "like(s) to be lonesome" and has let go of her old life, where she "never had a minute to (herself)" (III,4), while Jim is uncomfortable with the world of academia; "mental excitement (is) apt to send (him)...back to (his) own land and the figures scattered upon it" (III,1).

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My Antonia

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