What was the relationship between the Shimerda family and the Burden household in "My Antonia"?

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sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is a friendly, companionable atmosphere between the two families, Shimerda and Burden.  When the Shimerda's arrive, Mr. and Mrs. Burden immediately go to them offering friendly hospitality.  The Burden's are met warmly, and Mrs. Shimerda asks Mrs. Burden to teach Antonia English.  Jim and actually begins to do so, and in exchange, Antonia helps his grandmother in the kitchen.  There is encouragement and support given from one family to another, particularly from the Burdens to the Shimerdas.  The Burdens are of a higher class, but they don't often condescend to the Shimerda's.

I say "don't often", but they are guilty of some snobbery.  Mrs. Burden recoils at Mrs. Shimerda's gift of dried mushrooms, believing them to be substandard.  Mr. Burden, while not condoning and certainly not joining in the feud between his hired men and Shimerda's, also does not blantantly join in on the Shimerda's side.  Jim himself, though a friend of Antonia's, gets very angry whenever Antonia adopts a superior attitude; he believes that, as a girl, she has no right.

Really, it is a typical relationship between friends, full of ups and downs, but centered in a mutual respect and understanding.

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My Antonia

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