Early in her teen years, Antonia must develop a strong work ethic in order to make sure the family farm thrives after her father's suicide. She models this after he brother Ambroch. She takes on the physical work of men and is proud of her ability to work like a man. She tells her friend,
'Jim, you ask Jake how much he ploughed to-day. I don't want that Jake get more done in one day than me. I want we have very much corn this fall.
She definitely wants to pull her weight, even with physical labor.
Antonia can definitely think for herself as did her mother. Mrs. Shimerda was not afraid to ask her neighbors to give her a pot or to demand a discount on a perfectly good cow. Likewise, Antonia, upon her employer's demand that she either cease attending her Friday tent dances or lose her job, choses to get another job.
Antonia tossed her head and set her jaw. 'A girl like me has got to take her good times when she can. Maybe there won't be any tent next year. I guess I want to have my fling, like the other girls.'
She certainly wants to have her fun while she is young.
Mr. Shimerda, upon first meeting Jim, implored him to teach her English. Later, after his suicide, Antonia wanted to continue learning even though her circumstances would not allow it.
Antonia took my hand. 'Sometime you will tell me all those nice things you learn at the school, won't you, Jimmy?' she asked with a sudden rush of feeling in her voice. 'My father, he went much to school. He know a great deal; how to make the fine cloth like what you not got here. He play horn and violin, and he read so many books that the priests in Bohemie come to talk to him. You won't forget my father, Jim?' 'No,' I said, 'I will never forget him.'
Even though she isn't always in school, Antonia continues learning in rememberance of her father.