What is it that makes Ántonia a genuinely heroic figure?In what ways does she improvise happiness and emerge successfully from the same circumstances that killed her father?
Antonia Shimerda's heroism resides in her ability, throughout the novel, to "keep on keeping on" as they say, despite a life journey through much happiness, including, but not limited to her lack of education, pregnancy out of wedlock, her father's suicide, a lifelong state of poverty. When Jim returns to see her at her family's farm, he is reluctant to go because of this poverty; he fears that his happy memories of the happy-go-lucky Antonia, the one who chose dancing over steady work when they were young, will be sullied by what he assumes will be a poor and pitiful existence. He finds out, however, that he couldn't be more wrong. Antonia has married a kind, loving, hardworking man, a Bohemian like herself, and they have raised up a large family of kind, hard-working, polite children. Antonia's farm is beautiful, just like her family. Her heroism, then, lies a great deal in her spirit, one that never left her, and her intelligence, which led her to internalize the lessons of her life in a way that facilitated her ability successfully manage a home and raise children. Indeed, while Antonia never received the formal education her father so desperately wanted for her, she received a life's worth of education that resulted in wisdom, and a successful conclusion to her "hero's journey"--not monetary success, but success in the area of life that might be argued to be most important, that of one's family.