Pgs 118-119 from Ántonia’s point of view

After Jim asks me why I can’t go to school, I explain that mother does not complain anymore about none of us helping Ambrosh; I can work like a man now, I can help him. As I was explaining this though, I had trouble extricating from my voice the indignation that I feel. I know that I am probably perceived as a bit snippy but I can’t help but think that I missed my chance at a formal education. Jim asks the question as if I actually leave the work I do unattended. At this point in my life, I am doing just fine with the tasks at hand.

I’ve seen that those with a formal education do not actually know all that much about the human experience. The divide between me and Jim can at sometimes be palpable. Our lives are undeniably different and he does not see his privileges that my family and I lack. He may know more about mathematics or grammar but I can speak English pretty well and I didn’t even have to go to school. Jim is so bold sometimes!

To think that I can leave my family during the day and attend classes is ridiculous. The more I dwell on these thoughts as we are walking towards the barn I can feel my face becoming warm. I am so mad! His assumptions about my life are all wrong, and we are supposed to be friends. How can he be that ignorant to what my family is going through!? I am not from here, and my father is dead. Jim is looking at me funny. Suddenly I am brought away from my thoughts and into reality; I realize I am crying.

This release of tears calms me down. I take a deep breath. School has value, I know that. I cannot expect Jim to fully understand my life, I know that too. I was wrong to think a privileged kid like he could understand it anyway. Perhaps he means well, I just am overwhelmed. I take a deep breath and change my tone. “Sometime you will tell me all those nice things you learn at the school, won’t you Jimmy?”

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2 Responses to Pgs 118-119 from Ántonia’s point of view

  1. Michaela says:

    This is an interesting perspective. I loved how you used Antonia’s anger to point out Jim’s privileges as a white boy whose grandparents have money. It is interesting that Antonia grieves her father while Jim, who lost both of his parents, does not feel the same pain. Do you think this is due to his privilege or some other factor?

  2. Professor Seiler says:

    Jane, I’m with Michaela. Your refocalization of this “come to school, Tony!” scene does well to balance replace Jim’s indignation at the Shimerda’s with Antonia’s own sense of frustration and disappointment. I wonder if/how your sense of the importance of this moment has deepened/changed as you’ve gotten deeper into the novel. Nice work!

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