Monday, April 23rd, 2018...8:54 pmLillian

Mr. Burden on Mrs. Shimerda’s first visit

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Taken by Mr. Burden’s quote, “The prayers of all good people are good”, I wanted to imagine his perspective on things. This is an imagining of how he might have reacted to, or discussed, Mrs. Shimerda and Ántonia’s visit to the Burden’s home on pages 85-87.


The skies were open and clear for about three weeks after New Year’s Day. It was a pleasant welcome from the long winter and brought the boys back out into the yard. It was during these three weeks when Mrs. Shimerda and her little girl came up to visit us for the first time.

Emmaline said Mrs. Shimerda was truly taken by our home. For her, it must have been out of the ordinary, definitely different. I’ve seen their home, and they have a long ways to go but nothing their hard working Ambrosch, or even Ántonia couldn’t achieve. I hope they do. Once things begin to change they will see. They will see why it must be different to start. The work, it is part of the price, Mrs. Shimerda doesn’t seem to understand, but she will learn. Ántonia too, she has the potential, but it will be up to her.

Mr. Shimerda, he is old now. Not necessarily in number. But, the trip seems to have aged him, and Ántonia has noticed. He won’t be the one to see their home grow and change, not if he doesn’t start to adjust. But a man can’t be forced to work, to change. Ambrosch is learning though. He is a strong boy, very hard working, and Ántonia seems to underestimate what he can do without help.

The Shimerdas must make the choice of hard work, then we can help them. It isn’t so much that we couldn’t now, we just shouldn’t spoil their ambition. Not if we can help it.


  •   Professor Seiler
    April 24th, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    Lillian, I’m so taken with your view of Mrs. Burden’s inner view of Mrs. Shimerda and her family. You’ve got a sense of “grandmother,” as Jim calls her, as both patient/sympathetic *and* the voice of the quintessentially American work ethic.

  • I really liked hearing this point of view from Mrs. Burden. I think in replacing Mrs. Shimerda’s voice with Mrs. Burden allows for room to see how different the families view each other. In replacing the voice, Mrs. Burden sounds so understanding of the hard work and cultural/language barrier between the families, which shows how much heart she has. She seems to care about everyone, not only her family but also the Shimerda’s, which adds to her kind personality that we see here. Also Mrs. Burden comes across as having this power of knowledge and knowing information that others do not. She can see things in people that they do not see in themselves. She is a wise mom, and everyone knows that moms know best.

  • I am adding on to the previous comment- I posted on accident without finishing!

    I also think that by replacing the point of view Mrs. Burden seems to be giving credit to the Shimerda’s. Moving to another country is not easy, especially when the common language is not fully understood. This point of view, which sounds like Mrs. Burden is giving credibility to the Shimerda’s also implies that Mrs. Burden originally did give the Shimerda’s credit. Mrs. Burden seems to learn this empathy and grows in the process of knowing/ being exposed to the Shimerda’s.

  • …Maybe this is unclear but I meant this to be from MR. Burden’s point of view after hearing the story from Mrs. Burden. NOT from MRS. Burden’s point of view.

  •   Professor Seiler
    May 1st, 2018 at 2:08 am

    Ok, clearly Elizabeth and I did not read your post TITLE carefully enough. Thanks for the correction. And may I add? You’ve made an *important* choice to think about the awe-inspiring (as Jim remembers/idolizes) him figure of MR. Burden.

  • I really enjoyed reading your post because we shared the same interest in a scene. It’s fascinating to see you retelling this scene from the perspective of Mr. Burden. Different from other characters, Mr. Burden had always been generous and understanding towards the Shimerdas’s situations. While other members of the Burden family only offered help to the Shimerdas out of pity, Mr. Burden helped them out of genuine kindness and compassion. Mrs. Burden, Jim, and the Burden’s workers only helped the Shimerdas because they were in a higher position, Mr. Burden displayed true empathy for a destitute family. He did not see the Shimerdas as “other people” or foreigners, but instead as human beings who were desperate. Even after “the feud,” Mr. Burden still showed respect for the Shimerdas and saw potentials as well as kindness in them. By telling the story from Mr. Burden’s point of view, your post has beautifully illustrated Mr. Burden’s nature as a man of great compassion. When Mrs. Shimerdas came to his house, he only felt sympathy instead of annoyance. He knew it must be hard for Mrs. Shimerdas, who once came from a decent family, to now looked at a family more well-off than her own. What seemed to Mrs. Burden as ungratefulness and ugly jealousy was only a mother’s impotence to see her children starved.

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