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...
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