Grandmother Mrs. Shimerda, Antonia’s mother, resembles her son Ambrosch in her attitude in that both are mean and self-centered. Jim is told by Antonia that they moved to America on the insistence of Mrs. Simerda who wanted to secure her son’s future. She had resolved to move to America against the consent of Mr. Shimerda and he was not happy with this decision.
Even when Mrs. Shimerda asks the Burdens for the charity, she remains as proud in her mannerism as otherwise. She takes pride in a well-kept house, so poverty bothers her. Unfortunately, her behavior leaves a bad taste in the mouths of people around her like Jim particularly when she comes to Jim’s place and tells Jim’s grandmother that she could keep the house in a better condition than she does with the same resources. “…she ran about examining our carpets and curtains and furniture, all the while commenting upon them to her daughter in an envious, complaining tone” (Cather 58). Also, she takes a pot from their house saying that she needs it more than they do because they have many of them while she does not have any.
Emmaline Burden, Jim’s grandmother totally contrasts with Mrs. Shimerda in personality. She loves Jim like his own mother and displays a lot of compassion and concern for the Shimerdas.
She was a spare, tall woman, a little stooped, and she was apt to carry her head thrust forward in an attitude of attention, as if she were looking at something, or listening to something, far away. As I grew older, I came to believe that it was only because she was so often thinking of things that were far away. She was quick-footed and energetic in all her movements. Her voice was high and rather shrill, and she often spoke with an anxious inflection, for she was exceedingly desirous that everything should go with due order and decorum. (Cather 10).
Even though Jim’s grandmother does not always approve of the customs and ways of her Bohemian neighbors, she remains quite tolerant and generous and would not allow Jim to cultivate negative thoughts about the Shimerdas. Jim’s grandmother displays a very positive attitude towards Mrs. Shimerda even in her absence and does not seem to mind any of her manners. She reminds Jim of the fact that the Shimerdas have to see a lot of troubles in order to make both ends meet. Jim’s grandmother also tends to defend Mrs. Shimerda by saying that certain unpleasant traits show up in the personality when a person is poor and that the person may not actually be like that.
Mrs. Shimerda is a proud lady while Emmaline Burden is a down-to-earth lady. Mrs. Shimerda’s attitude can, in part, be attributed to her limited knowledge of the native language. Without meaning to be so, she might sound a bit harsh to others when she is not able to voice her feelings with such delicacy as the native speakers do.
Cather, Willa. My Antonia. Forgotten Books, 2008. Print.