My Antonia

“I tried to shut Antonia out of my mind. I was bitterly disappointed in her. I could not forgive her for becoming an object of pity, while Lena Lingard, for whom people had always foretold trouble, was now the leading dressmaker of Lincoln, much respected in Black Hawk” (223).

This preoccupation with Antonia and her personal life choices is very characteristic of Jim. His disappointment in her becoming “an object of pity” implies that he thinks he is entitled to a say in how she lives her life. This desire to control Antonia’s decisions also manifests earlier in Jim’s life, when he expresses disappointment that she is too masculine.

His tendency toward anger at Antonia is also shown after Jim is beaten by Mr. Cutter. Jim blames Antonia for the whole thing: “I felt that I never wanted to see her again. I hated her almost as much as I hated Cutter. She had let me in for this whole disgustingness” (189). He seems to believe either that Antonia set the whole thing up, or that Antonia is somehow at fault for Cutter wanting to assault her.

Jim often brings up Lena Lingard when thinking about Antonia. Here, he is emphasizing Antonia’s deficiencies by pointing out Lena’s successes. Later, he credits Lena with his finally reuniting with Antonia. His preoccupation with the women also manifests in his dreams. He would have innocent dreams about Antonia, in which he and Antonia would play together in the countryside. In contrast, Jim would have sexual dreams about Lena.

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