These passages are taken from Book I, chapter III. This is the first full introduction of Antonia and her family as the Burdens have decided to visit them so on Sunday, the Burdens head out in their wagon to greet their new Bohemianneighbours. Mrs Burden explains that someone took advantage of the Shimerdas when they decided to move to Black Hawk by overcharging for a farmhouse not suite to th eharsh Nebraska winters. At the Shimerdas, the two families exchange greetings and we see the Shimerda family through Jim's eyes.
In a first part, we will study the difficulty the Shimerdas have to adapt in their new country, then we willstudy the portrait of the Shimerda family and in a last part we will see what the links to success exist for the Shimerdas.
I- Adaptation in a new country
The Shimerdas are new to America - new to the land, new to the language, new to the customs, & new to farming. In this passage, they get some help from Mrs Burden who tries to reasure the Shimerdas about the improvement of their situationafter a little while (l.6/7 p.14). She is also very helpful as she brings them a basket full of food (l.19/21 p.14) which is a real chance for them as they are starving (l.28/29 p.14).
The Shimerdas do not speak the language so adaptation is very difficult- they can't even talk directly to the Burdens. They can only rely on one person, Peter Krajiek (l.13/14 p.13). Otto Fuch is alsodesirous/willing to help them communicate as he speaks German and Mr Shimerda too (even if this help is too late) (see line 27/28 p.13).
The most important symbol of the Shimerdas'inadaptation in America is Mr Shimerda, a cultured man, a weaver in Bohemia, and a violin player, who is homesick for the Old Country ( l.13 p.15) and can't adjust to harsh prairie life and he seems ill-suited for a life in thewilderness (l.18...21 p.13).
II- Portrait of the Shimerda's family.
Two sorts of people seem to form the Shimerda family.
First, the girls, Antonia and Yulka, who are pretty and obedient (l. 30 ...36 p.14). Jim had already heard of them in positive terms (in chapter I) and his vision of the two girls confirms what his first vision of them was. Mr Shimerda is also described as someonemild (l.9/10 p. 15). He is intelligent too (l.10/11 'understandingly') and he is an artist (l. 11/12 p.15 « I noticed how white and well-shaped his own hands were »). Even if the situation is catastrophic,he keeps his manners and dignity (l. 16...19 p.15) but we can wonder if keeping his manners will be enough to survive in this new country as he is too old and has no knowledge about farming (l.17 ...19 p.13).
Then we have Mrs Shimerda, Ambrosch and Marek.
Mrs Shimerda is eager for the company and polite in her profuse thanks for the food (l.19/21 p.14), but she is always complaining throughout the novel and it starts in this excerpt (l.14/15 p.14) as she is complaining to Mrs Burden about the house.
Mrs Shimerda has two sons. The younger of the two Shimerda brothers isdepicted as slightly threatening in his handicap. Marek’s physical deformities are accompanied by mental deficiencies. (on l. 40...42 p. 14 + l.1 p. 15). In this passage though he appears threatening, he is not violent (l.3 p. 15) even if later in the novel he will change and will be committed (interné) because he has become violent.
Ambrosch Shimerda, the elder son, is presented as an animallike person. First, he comes out of his cave ( on line 24/25 p. 14 « came out of the cave »). He is also described as sly (rusé) and suspicious like his mother (l.17 p14 « His hazel eyes were little and shrewd, like his mother's, but more sly and suspicious »); he is compared to an animal (a fox) or a thief on line 28 p. 14 « they fairly snapped at the food ». Mrs. Shimerda dote on (love) Ambrosch,...