My Antonia Book III, Chapters 1-4 Summary and Analysis
by Willa Cather

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Book III, Chapters 1-4 Summary and Analysis


Book III, Chapter I Summary

Jim rents two rooms (a bedroom and a study) from an old couple in Lincoln. In his first year, Jim studies under Gaston Cleric. Cleric moved to Lincoln at the urging of his doctors, who suggested that a peaceful life in the country would help Cleric recover from an illness he contracted in Italy. Jim respects Cleric, and the two of them talk about literature and philosophy.

Book III, Chapter I Analysis


Aeneid by Virgil. For a description of the Aeneid, see Book II, Chapter XIV: Allusions.

Dante Alighieri (1265 - 1321). An Italian poet famous for his epic poem The Divine Comedy.

The Divine Comedy. Dante's alter ego, "Pilgrim," travels through Hell and Purgatory on his way to Heaven in Dante's The Divine Comedy. The Pilgrim's guide for most of this journey is Virgil, the Roman poet, who acts as a kind of teacher to the Pilgrim. This relationship mirrors that of Jim and Cleric, who are also student and teacher.

Statius (45 - 96). A Roman poet from the Silver Age of Roman literature. He serves as one of the Pilgrim's guides in the second section of The Divine Comedy, Purgatory.

Tragic Theatre at Pompeii. Also known as the amphitheatre of Pompeii, this "Tragic Theatre" was buried during the eruption of the volcano Vesuvius in 79 AD. The structure, however, was preserved under the ash and lava. It has become a subject of much archaeological study since its excavation.

Virgil. An ancient Roman poet famed for the Aeneid, an epic poem about the Trojan hero Aeneas. Virgil acts as the Pilgrim's guide through much of The Divine Comedy.


Education. Much has been made of Jim's intelligence and his abilities as a student in previous chapters. Not long after enrolling at university, however, he realizes he doesn't have the temperament of a true scholar. He will later become a lawyer, which should indicate to the reader that Jim's inability to focus on his studies is really a symptom of his homesickness and his desire for Antonia.

Book III, Chapter II Summary

One evening, Lena Lingard comes to visit Jim in Lincoln. He's studying Latin at the time and is grateful for the excuse to stop. She tells him that she has opened up her own dressmaking shop in Lincoln and is doing very well for herself. She plans on building her mother a wooden house and bringing her new furniture. She would've visited him sooner, but she thought he'd be too busy to see her. Everyone back home is so proud of his studiousness.

Jim asks after Antonia, who is, unfortunately, still dating Larry Donovan. She's working for Mrs. Gardener at the hotel now and is safe from Wick Cutter. Antonia has even made up with Mr. and Mrs. Harling, whose daughter Nina still loves Antonia. Lena invites Jim to see a show with her at the theatre in Lincoln. She then leaves, asking Jim to come see her sometime. Returning to Virgil and the Georgics, Jim realizes that without beautiful women like Lena, poets like Virgil wouldn't have anything to write about.

Book III, Chapter II Analysis


Georgics by Virgil. Virgil's second most famous work, Georgics is primarily considered with agriculture and nature. Divided into four books and depicting man's struggle with the harsh natural world, it inspired the style of poetry called "georgic," which concerns itself primarily with rules about cultivating land. Jim quotes a line from the Georgics: "Optima dies...prima fugit." This is Latin for: the best days are the first to flee. We can assume, from this quote, that Jim feels his best and happiest days (in the country, in his youth) are behind him.


Poetry. Near the end of this chapter, Jim has an important revelation: that Lena and Antonia are the kinds of women who inspire great poetry. Virgil's great love Beatrice became his muse in the same way that Antonia becomes Jim's muse, inspiring him to ruminate on the themes of nature and beauty.

Book III, Chapter III Summary

Jim attends a number of plays with Lena that season. He spends much of this chapter recounting the plot...

(The entire section is 1,906 words.)