Tuesday, April 24th, 2018...2:00 amnguyetra

Experimenting with Point of View: My Antonia’s Mrs. Shimerdas

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One morning, during this interval of fine weather, Antonia and her mother rode over on one of their shaggy old horses to pay us a visit. It was the first time Mrs. Shimerda had been to our house, and she ran about examining our carpets and curtains and furniture, all the while commenting upon them to her daughter in an envious, complaining tone.

I came over to their house on a nice day. The clouds were floating slowly on a deep blue sky and the sun was burning over our heads, leaving drops of sweat running over our faces. My mood was destroyed as soon as I climbed onto our shaggy horses, trading fresh air for temporary convenience and the terrible smell of old animals. Their house was so different from our dirty, cramped cave: it was packed with light, warmness, and furniture. I couldn’t help but think about our house. My poor Ambrosch! If only we could live here…

When Jim’s grandmother was cooking dinner, I walked around the kitchen and saw her grand collection of kitchenware. “You got many, Shimerdas no got,” I complained to the old woman. She was coming back and forth hurriedly between pots and pans, her position so unnatural that I thought she didn’t belong here. Such awkwardness! I could do way better than her. If only I had these pieces of equipment! I told her about Bohemia and how I used to cook with elegance and efficiency. She raised one of her eyebrow, but decided to give me her silver pot as a gift. I wondered how much the pot cost.

After joining them for dinner, I gave a hand with washing the dishes. I thought in my head, without realizing I was speaking quite loudly: “You got many things for cook. If I got all things like you, I make much better.” The boy Jim looked at me straight in the eyes after hearing that, but his reactions meant nothing to me. He would forget it all after several hang-outs with Ántonia. Christmas was near. I couldn’t tell how long it would take our family to start making money again. That’s the only reason why I came to America.

 



4 Comments

  • I never thought of writing this scene from the point of view of Mrs. Shimerdas. I think that this is really cool and shows aspects that I would never have thought about. For example, having it first person, the readers hear straight from her why she came here and the lack of supplies that she has in her own kitchen to make her family food. In addition, I really hated Mrs. Shimerdas when this scene took place in the book, but after reading it from her point of view, I hate her less. I think that it is more justified from her point of view to ask for things indirectly, but reading it from Jim’s point of view made me angry because she was coming into their house and wanting to take their things. It is very interesting how things can change just by changing the point of view.

  •   Professor Seiler
    April 24th, 2018 at 8:36 pm

    Trang–the last sentence of your post is especially haunting. It calls to mind Ántonia’s defense of her father to Jim, later in Book I, when she insists that it was her mother her forced her father to come to the US.

    …. do you think Mrs. Shimerda is onto Jim’s feelings for her older daughter, complicated as they are?

  • Wow I really like this scene in the perspective of Mrs. Shimerdas. I found myself laughing when she trades the smell of fresh air for the smell of horses. This minute detail reminds me of the differences of the Shimerdas’ cave compared to the house that Jim lives in. From Mrs. Shimerdas’s perspective, it appears more that they went to Jim’s house for a break from their sad cave. I also like how Mrs. Shimerdas’s perspective is much more drawn out and descriptive compared to just saying that the Shimerdas’ came over. Like Professor Seiler, I’m obsessed with your last sentence because Mrs. Shimerdas is sort of painted in a bad light earlier in the story as she is the one that is seen to have forced them to come to America and now the read almost sympathizes with her.

  • I did the same scene but from the perspective of Mr. Burden! I think this scene is so interesting because it is so heavily biased through Jim’s retelling. This is the beginning of his general annoyance with the Shimerda’s that leads into “the feud.” I really appreciate that you’ve taken such a distinctly different side of things, while also maintaining some of her “annoying” qualities (“I could do way better than her.”)
    I really enjoyed reading this!

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