My Antonia Book V, Chapters 1-3 Summary and Analysis
by Willa Cather

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Book V, Chapters 1-3 Summary and Analysis

Book V, Chapter I Summary

Despite his promise, Jim doesn't visit Antonia again for twenty years. He means to, but life keeps getting in the way, and deep down he fears that time hasn't been kind to her. Tiny tells him, rather uncharitably, that Antonia has had a hard life, but Lena corrects her: Antonia married a nice man, Cuzak, and had a bunch of children. Hearing this, Jim finally decides to visit.

When he arrives, two of Antonia's sons are standing in a plum thicket, staring at a dead dog. The younger brother is lost in his grief, but they manage to pull themselves away and walk Jim to the house. Antonia's daughters greet him at the door, offering him a chair. Antonia appears suddenly in the doorway. She doesn't recognize him at first, but then rushes around excitedly, gathering all her children to introduce them to her old friend.

Antonia takes Jim down to their new fruit cellar, where she shows him their massive stockpile of preserves. With so many children, it takes a lot of food to keep them fed. Antonia says that this is why their family isn't rich, even though theirs is one of the best producing farms around. Antonia then takes him to the orchards, where she points out individual fruit trees, speaking of them as if they were her children.

While the children measure out a grave for the dead dog, Antonia tells Jim about how hard those first years of marriage were. Her husband wasn't a good farmer, and she had to work hard to keep them out of debt. Her children were a great help. Jim tells Antonia that she should've never gone to work in town, but in spite of everything that happened there, she's still glad she went. The nice ways she learned there helped her raise her children.

Jim agrees to spend the night. He tells Antonia's eldest sons that she was very beautiful once and that he was deeply in love with her. Naturally, the boys are a little embarrassed. After dinner, the entire family sits in the parlour to listen to music. Antonia then brings out a box of photographs, and everyone sits around admiring the pictures of friends and family.

Later, Jim carries his things into the barn, where the boys make their beds. He lies awake a long time, staring up at the moon and thinking of Antonia's remarkable vitality.

Book V, Chapter I Analysis


John D. Rockefeller. A wealthy American industrialist known for his success in business. His namesake plaza in New York City is proof of his fame in the early 20th Century. His name has became synonymous with wealth and prestige, and Cather's allusion to him indicates that Mr. Harling was rich, but not that rich.


Leo uses a metaphor when he says, "I'm a big bull snake!" This is in reference to the fact that he has been hiding in some ironweed and jumped out, as a snake would. Later, Jim calls Antonia a "rich mine of life," indicating that she has vast stores of energy and vitality, which she imparts to her children and the world around her.


Color. Cather continues to use color to emphasize the beauty and vitality of life. Flowers, grasses, fruits, and trees continue to be described in reds and green (colors which reappear in the descriptions of Antonia's children). Leo's red tongue represents his impishness, whereas his green eyes represent his sensitivity. All of the Cuzaks have a deep tan that Jim describes as healthy.


Jim uses a simile when he says the orchard "seemed full of sun, like a cup." Later, Jim describes Leo as "faun-like." This is in keeping with Cather's other descriptions of Leo, which all relate in some way to the animal world.


The Framed Photographs of Bohemia. Jim sends these to Antonia after he visits Bohemia on a business trip. The mere fact that he's able to visit Bohemia when she isn't indicates that he's of a much higher social status than her and that his white male privilege has opened up many opportunities for him that Antonia will never have. He seems to think nothing of this, however, and Antonia is glad for the photos.

Mr. Shimerda's...

(The entire section is 1,467 words.)