In My Antonia, what does Mr. Shimerda think of Jim?

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The story makes it clear that Mr. Shimerda is very grateful to his son for his willingness to teach his daughter how to read, as is shown early on in the novel when he promises to make a gift of his gun that he was given back in Europe to Jim when he is a grown man. Note how this scene is described in the novel:

I picked up the gun he had dropped; a queer piece from the old country, short and heavy, with a stag's head on the cock. When he saw me examining it, he turned to me with his far-away look that always made me feel as if I were down at the bottom of a well. He spoke kindly and gravely...

We have here two important aspects about Mr. Shimerda's relationship with Jim. On the one hand, he was very kind, as his promise of the gun as a gift demonstrates. On the other hand, there is a vast distance that separates him from Jim and other characters, and this is compared to Jim being down the bottom of a well and looking up. Therefore we can infer that there is a massive dignity in the character of Mr. Shimerda in addition to his kindness, and this is something that keeps him distant from others.

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My Antonia

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