What is Jim's view of the hired girls and the town girls in "My Antonia"?

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In the town of Black Hawk, Nebraska, a firm social class distinction separated the town girls, those whose parents were born in America, from the hired girls, those whose parents were immigrants. The established families wouldn't associate with the immigrants, and even the young men wouldn't consider dating the daughters...

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In the town of Black Hawk, Nebraska, a firm social class distinction separated the town girls, those whose parents were born in America, from the hired girls, those whose parents were immigrants. The established families wouldn't associate with the immigrants, and even the young men wouldn't consider dating the daughters of immigrants, those who "worked out" as household servants or employees of businesses in town.

Jim, however, prefers the hired girls to the town girls for several reasons; he believes they were more attractive, more intelligent, and better prepared for success. The town girls wouldn't go outside in the winter because of the cold or in the summer because of the heat, and they considered it a hardship if they had to walk more than half a mile to school. Because they exercised so little, their bodies were stiff when they danced or walked, making them less attractive than their athletic immigrant peers.

The older immigrant girls, like Antonia, learned a great deal from having lived in the old country and the new and from working side by side with their mothers and grandmothers. The town girls lacked the practical intelligence and wisdom of these immigrant daughters. Jim says, "I always knew I should live long enough to see my country girls come into their own, and I have." He describes how the contributions the country girls made to their families' incomes resulted in greater success among immigrant farmers than among the "American" farmers who didn't allow their daughters to go into service. Consequently, the immigrant girls who married immigrant boys went on to have larger and more prosperous farms.

It seems that Jim was one of the few non-immigrant boys who gave the immigrant girls credit for their physical beauty, wisdom, and potential.

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Although the town girls are more highly respected socially than the hired girls, Jim feels that the hired girls are much more full of life and engaging than their pampered counterparts. 

Jim acknowledges that some of the town girls are "jolly and pretty", but because they avoid physical activity and shelter themselves from the elements whenever they can, he sees them as merely "faces in the schoolroom...cut off below the shoulders, like cherubs".  He notices that "when one danced with them, their bodies never moved inside their clothes; their muscles seemed to ask but one thing - not to be disturbed".

The hired girls, on the other hand, having "learned so much from life, from poverty," and having "been early awakened and made observant by coming at a tender age from an old country to a new", developed a "vigor (and) a positive carriage and freedom of movement (that) made them conspicuous among Black Hawk women".  Although the the hired girls are seen as being "unrefined" in comparison to the town girls, Jim thinks this attitude is "very stupid".  Jim sees the hired girls as vibrant, colorful individuals, whereas the vision of the general populace concerning these immigrant daughters is completely limited by inaccurate preconceptions and stereotypes (Book II, Chapter IX).

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