Jim and Antonia both arrive in Black Hawk on the same train, at night. The darkness of night has always been a symbol of the unknown, in this case, the completely changed lives awaiting both individuals as they arrive in this new place. Both Jim and Antonia had to be nervous and apprehensive as they got off the train in a strange place, unable to see what it looked like or what it held for them. Newly orphaned Jim at least is met by the hired hand and is taken to his grandparents' farm; Antonia and her family are truly all alone in this new world where they struggle to communicate and survive.
The night could stand for the unknown, the unreceptive attitudes of many of Black Hawk's citizens toward the immigrants, the depression and frustrations felt by Antonia's family as they struggle to survive. The train's nighttime arrival sets the stage for the difficulties awaiting the newcomers.