Jim Burden arrives at Black Hawk when his family is already entrenched because grandfather has a farm there. He is white, and speaks the language. Antonia’s family does not, and they are shy and at a disadvantage.
Jim Burden, an orphan, arrives at night. He is asleep when they get there, and he travels with his father’s hired hand. As he continues through the night, he sees nothing around him on his way to his grandfather’s farm.
No, there was nothing but land…I had the feeling that the world was left behind, that we had got over the edge of it, and were outside man's jurisdiction. (Ch 1)
His grandfather’s farm is comfortable by pioneer standards. He begins to enjoy farm life.
Unlike Jim, Antonia has a family at first. Antonia’s family arrives to find the house “no good.” The family has been cheated, as Antonia is well aware. There is really no house. It is a sort of shack dug into the side of a hill.
Presently, against one of those banks, I saw a sort of shed, thatched with the same wine-coloured grass that grew everywhere. Near it tilted a shattered windmill frame, that had no wheel. (ch 3)
The Shimerdas have trouble communicating because they do not speak English. Antonia speaks only some. They have lost all of their money, and have few possessions. They are frightened and frustrated.