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My Ántonia | Characters

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Character Description
Jim Burden Jim Burden comes to Nebraska as a child, finds a close, lifelong friend in a Bohemian girl named Ántonia, and falls in love with the prairie and the stories and determination of the immigrants who farm it. Although his life takes him far away, Ántonia is never far from his mind. Read More
Ántonia Shimerda Ántonia Shimerda, later Cuzak, is a Bohemian immigrant who feels things deeply and works hard to help her family scratch out a living in her new country. She is bright and intuitive but perhaps too trusting. Read More
Lena Lingard Lena Lingard is a Norwegian immigrant who grew up in a very poor, very large family. Although she is beautiful she uses her skill and ambition to build a successful business, remaining single her whole life. Read More
Actress who plays Marguerite The unnamed actress who plays Marguerite in the play Jim and Lena watch is old and somewhat decrepit, yet she has the talent to bring the character to life in all her beautiful, youthful, tragic romance.
Ole Benson Ole Benson is an unhappy farmer who has trouble with impulse control. His wife, who he thought would help keep him straight, turns out to be insane, and he finds comfort in spending time with Lena, scandalously falling in love with her.
Jan Bouska Jan Bouska is an immigrant bachelor who lives with Anton Jelinek and was trained to make coats out of furs back in Vienna.
Mr. Burden Josiah Burden, Jim's grandfather, is a solemn, wise, devout Protestant. He is a man of few words, but he is unfailingly kind and generous.
Mrs. Burden Emmaline Burden, Jim's grandmother, is an efficient woman who manages her household and workers well. She is generous, religious, and loving, but also opinionated.
Mr. Bushy Mr. Bushy is both the postmaster for the area of Black Hawk and a farmer. He is especially kind to the Shimerda family after Mr. Shimerda's death.
Gaston Cleric Gaston Cleric is a learned scholar of the ancient world. Although he suffers from ill health, he becomes a friend and mentor to Jim during his years at college.
Passenger conductor The unnamed passenger conductor on Jim's train to Nebraska is friendly and well-traveled. He tells Jim about the foreign family also going to Black Hawk, especially their pretty daughter who he tells Jim is about his age.
Coroner The unnamed coroner from Black Hawk deals with the suicide of both Mr. Shimerda and also the murder-suicide of the Cutters. He is suspicious of Krajiek, the Shimerdas' landlord, because the man acts guilty after Mr. Shimerda's death.
Ambrosch Cuzak Ambrosch Cuzak is one of Ántonia's older sons and is named for her older brother. He loves and is proud of his mother, and he looks forward to hunting with her old friend Jim.
Anna Cuzak Anna Cuzak is one of Ántonia's older daughters and is named for her mother's friend and fellow hired girl. She is polite and capable.
Anton Cuzak, father Anton Cuzak is a Bohemian immigrant who marries and loves Ántonia. Although he would prefer a city life, he works hard with Ántonia to make their family farm a successful one and a happy place for their beloved brood of children.
Anton Cuzak, son Anton Cuzak is one of Ántonia's sons, named for his father. He knows all his mother's stories about Jim.
Charley Cuzak Charley Cuzak is one of Ántonia's sons who is curious about how true his mother's story of the rattler really is. Charley is named for Charley Harling, the son of his mother's employer in Black Hawk.
Jan Cuzak Jan Cuzak is a shy, sensitive young son of Ántonia.
Leo Cuzak Leo Cuzak is a naughty, accident-prone little boy who loves his mother fiercely and jealously. He is her favorite child, and he can play his grandfather's violin.
Lucie Cuzak Lucia Cuzak is one of Ántonia's rather shy daughters.
Marta Cuzak Marta Cuzak is Ántonia's eldest daughter, the child born of her relationship with Larry. She is a mother herself and a prosperous married woman.
Nina Cuzak Nina Cuzak is a little girl with large eyes that remind her mother Ántonia of Nina Harling, the daughter of Ántonia's employer in Black Hawk.
Rudolph Cuzak Rudolph Cuzak is Ántonia's eldest son. He is a tall, strong young man.
Yulka Cuzak Yulka Cuzak is a daughter of Ántonia who is helpful although not skilled at the violin. She is named for Ántonia's younger sister.
Wick Cutter Wycliffe Cutter, more commonly called Wick, is the crooked money lender from Black Hawk. He is a lecherous man who enjoys angering his wife as much as manipulating vulnerable people.
Mrs. Cutter Mrs. Cutter is a miserable, ugly woman who complains about her husband's multiple affairs and gambling problem but stays with him.
Blind d'Arnault Samsom d'Arnault is a musical prodigy who travels around to give performances at places like Mrs. Gardener's hotel. He is a blind African American.
Miss Nellie d'Arnault Miss Nellie d'Arnault is the daughter of the plantation owner on which Samson d'Arnault was raised. She is a pianist, and it was on her instrument that his talent was first accidentally discovered.
Larry Donovan Larry Donovan is a conceited, dishonest man who manipulates women and labors under the delusion he deserves a better position at the railway than passenger conductor. He promises to marry Ántonia only to use all her money, get her pregnant, and abandon her.
Mary Dusak Mary Dusak is a hired girl in Black Hawk who has a face with pox scars. She had to leave town for a while after becoming pregnant by her bachelor employer.
Otto Fuchs Otto Fuchs is the Burdens' hired hand. He had a colorful past in the wild west, but he is a loyal, hard worker for the Burdens and a good example for Jim.
Johnnie Gardener Johnnie Gardener is the submissive husband of the owner of the hotel in Black Hawk. He runs the hotel when she is out of town but worries about her disapproval of his choices.
Mrs. Gardener Molly Gardner is the owner of the hotel in Black Hawk. She is a strict employer who keeps her hired girl in line. She enjoys theater and travels to see plays when she can.
Anna Hansen Anna Hansen is a hired girl and friend of Lena and Ántonia's.
Charley Harling Charley Harling is the spoiled only son of the Harling family, neighbors to the Burdens. He leaves Black Hawk and his family far behind him to attend military school and join the navy.
Frances Harling Frances Harling is the intelligent, reliable eldest daughter of the Harling family who helps her father run the family business. She has a head for numbers and is a good judge of character.
Julia Harling Julia Harling is the most musically talented of the Harling children. She plays the piano.
Nina Harling Nina Harling is the youngest of the Harling children, and she is very sensitive.
Mr. Harling Christian Harling is an exacting, domineering businessman, husband, father, and employer who expects to be obeyed.
Mrs. Harling Mrs. Harling is the energetic, outspoken, kind next-door neighbor of the Burdens in Black Hawk. She is like a mother to Jim and employs Ántonia, teaching her much about housekeeping and childrearing.
Sally Harling Sally Harling is an athletic girl who rejects many gender norms of her day, wearing her hair short, dressing like a boy, and letting her skin tan.
Old Hata Old Hata is an elderly beggar from Bohemia who used to sing to the children of families who invited her in to sit by the fire.
Mrs. Herron Mrs. Herron is a customer of Lena's who wants to have a dress made for her daughter. She trusts Lena's skills, although she is somewhat worried that Lena will go over budget.
Annie Iverson Annie Iverson is the girl chosen by Nick Svendsen's family as a more appropriate match than Lena. Nick is sullen toward his new fiancée.
Ole Iverson Ole Iverson is a Norwegian immigrant who owns a farm on which Ántonia works and where a tramp commits suicide.
Jim's father Jim's father is not named, but he was the son of Mr. Burden and Mrs. Burden, the grandparents. He lived in Virginia and dies within a year of his wife, Jim's mother.
Jim's mother Jim's mother is not named. She lived in Virginia and died within a year of Jim's father.
Joe Joe is a handsome, prosperous man and the husband of Marta, Ántonia's eldest child. He is patient with his mother-in-law and dotes on his baby.
Father Kelly Father Kelly is the Catholic priest in Black Hawk.
Anson Kirkpatrick Anson Kirkpatrick is a traveling salesman who stays at Mrs. Gardener's hotel and can play the piano and sing for other guests. He enjoys dancing with the hired girls, too.
Peter Krajiek Peter Krajiek is an immigrant who takes advantage of other new immigrants, cheating them out of their savings. Although he doesn't seem to care about the Shimerdas' suffering, he does have anxiety over Mr. Shimerda's suicide.
Selma Kronn Selma Kronn is an intelligent, serious young woman and the first immigrant from Scandinavia to earn a job as a school teacher.
Anton Jelinek Anton Jelinek is a Bohemian immigrant who compassionately comes to the aid of the Shimerda family after the father's suicide, eventually owns a bar in Black Hawk, and invites his cousin Anton Cuzak to come to Nebraska. He is a devout Catholic.
Mr. Jensen Mr. Jensen is the Danish owner of the laundry business in Black Hawk. He employs Danish girls to sooth the pain of losing his own daughter.
Johnson Johnson is a Swedish immigrant who lost his legs to frostbite in Alaska. He is cared for by Tiny and leaves her his claim when he dies from the amputation operation.
Chris Lingard (brother) Chris Lingard is the younger brother of Lena. He loves his mother and respects his sister's advice.
Chris Lingard (father) Chris Lingard is the father of more children than he can afford, including Lena. He works hard, but he is not very good at farming and is unable to provide very well for so many people.
Sylvester Lovett Sylvester Lovett is the son of the town banker who falls in love with Lena, but when his work suffers he ends up marrying a woman with land instead.
Marguerite Marguerite is a beautiful French courtesan in the play Camille, which Jim and Lena watch. She is gives up her one chance at happiness for her lover and dies a tragic death.
Jake Marpole Jake Marpole is a young farmhand who accompanies Jim on the train to Nebraska and goes to work for Mr. and Mrs. Burden. He is an honest, hardworking person who is like an older brother to Jim.
Martha Martha is the mixed-race mother of Samson d'Arnault. She worries about her son's appearance and disability and does her best to keep him hidden.
"Crazy Mary" "Crazy Mary" Benson is mentally unstable and is wracked with jealousy over her husband Ole Benson's admiration of Lena. Mary attempts to kill Lena several times.
Narrator The unnamed female narrator of the Introduction grew up with Jim and Ántonia, and like Jim, has moved far away to New York. The narrator believes Jim knew Ántonia best and presents his recollections, largely unchanged, as the novel.
Mr. Ordinsky Mr. Ordinsky is a Polish violinist who puts on airs and lives across the hall from Lena. He is in love with her and jealously tries to protect her from the attentions of other men.
Willy O'Reilly Willy O'Reilly is a traveling salesman who stays at the hotel in Black Hawk and enjoys dancing with the hired girls.
Harry Paine Harry Paine is a foolish young man who forces Ántonia to kiss him when his wedding is only days away.
Pavel Pavel is a tall Russian immigrant who lives on a claim with his friend Peter. The two fled their homeland after surviving a wolf attack under questionable circumstances, and he is plagued with guilt about it on his deathbed.
Peter Peter is a good-natured, plump Russian immigrant who could have happily lived on his claim with his cow and his friend had he not been overrun by debt.
Colonel Raleigh Colonel Raleigh is an elderly admirer of Lena's whose proposals are rejected several times. He is also her landlord.
Ambrosch Shimerda Ambrosch Shimerda is the selfish, dishonest eldest son of the Shimerda family. His mother's favorite, he turns a profit on the work of his sister Ántonia, disregarding its impact on her.
Marek Shimerda Marek Shimerda is a developmentally and physically disabled young man who is unable to speak. He is the younger son of Mr. and Mrs. Shimerda.
Mr. Shimerda Mr. Shimerda was s a well-read man, a tailor, and skilled musician in his homeland of Bohemia, a land he never wanted to leave. He is homesick, depressed, and ill-equipped to survive in Nebraska, so although he loves his family, his daughters especially, he commits suicide.
Mrs. Shimerda Mrs. Shimerda is an ambitious, rather grasping woman who is driven to jealousy and bitterness by the poverty of settler's life. She does everything to better the chances of success for Ambrosch, her eldest son.
Yulka Shimerda Yulka Shimerda is the sweet little sister of Ántonia. She is the youngest of the family and is the most afraid of her father's dead body when he commits suicide.
Tiny Soderball Tiny Soderball is an immigrant hired girl who begins by working in the hotel in Black Hawk. She is a risk-taker who goes on to have adventures and successes out West that make her a wealthy woman.
Widow Steavens Mrs. Steavens is an elderly, widowed Native American woman who is unfailingly hospitable and generous. She helps Ántonia before and after her pregnancy like she was her own child.
Widow Steavens's brother The brother of the Widow Steavens is a stoic, quiet man, but he can be counted on for help when emergencies arise.
Nick Svendsen Nick Svendsen is a Swedish immigrant who wants to marry Lena, but his family objects. He resents them, and his new fiancée, Annie Iverson, for it.
Mary Svoboda Mary Svoboda is an immigrant hired girl who carries the social stigma of bearing a child outside of wedlock, but she becomes the head of a fine and prosperous family later.
Mrs. Thomas Mrs. Thomas is the dressmaker in Black Hawk who trains Lena and eventually encourages her to open her own shop.
Tramp An unnamed tramp is desperate for beer and suicidal. He waves to Ántonia before he hurls himself into the farm thresher machine and dies.
Mr. Vanni Mr. Vanni is an Italian who plays the harp for dancers at his traveling dance school.
Mrs. Vanni Mrs. Vanni is a dignified Italian traveling dance instructor.
Maria Vasak Maria Vasak, or Vasakova, as the Cuzaks call her, is a famous singer who had shoes made by Cuzak's father at one time.
Preacher White Preacher White is the previous owner of the home in Black Hawk that the Burden family buys after renting their farm to the Widow Steavens.
Genevieve Whitney Genevieve Whitney is the aristocratic, wealthy woman who marries Jim Burden later. She enjoys the attention of her friends, but seems to have little time or concern for her husband.
Rutland Whitney Rutland Whitney is the cousin who humiliated Genevieve Whitney by leaving her at the altar.
Unnamed Austrian woman An unnamed Austrian woman makes the journey to American under the care of Otto, and her pregnancy progresses on the trip. She gives birth to triplets to everyone's surprise.
Unnamed Austrian woman's husband The unnamed husband of the Austrian woman arrives in Chicago to meet his family. This furniture factory worker seems to resent Otto for the unexpected birth of his triplets.
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