Based on the novel, Jim Burden’s observation of Antonia and even the way he looks at her and interacts with her, it seems clear that he loved Antonia. He did not pursue her, however. Jim spent his childhood in his grandfather’s house in the prairie and spent a lot of time with Antonia. Eventually, in the second book, he spends more time with Antonia and also with the girls working in town. It is at this time that he notices the sexuality of Antonia.
Hence, his descriptions of Antonia, and later of Lena, become charged with sexuality. Jim Burden’s relationship with Antonia remained platonic first, because Antonia put emphasis on the four years difference they had and looked down at Jim as her junior. Hence, Jim felt that Antonia looked down on him as a child. When he turned his attention to Lena Lingard, she decided to toy with the young man’s feelings. Antonia had to intervene to prevent Jim from being heartbroken.
The relationship between Antonia and Jim remained platonic, at least on the surface. Jim did not see through the defenses set up by Antonia to prevent their being linked romantically together. But since Jim turned his attention to Lena, Antonia felt that she should protect the emotions of Jim. Jim and Antonia are connected with the threads of childhood and of the friendship of growing up together. But Jim, being an orphan and a man, has to study and pursue his dreams for himself.
His education and the very act of pursuing his dreams stand in the way between him and Antonia. Years later when he goes back and finds Antonia with her husband and her ten children, he feels affectionate to them yet he adds a wistful longing by saying that Antonia and he “possessed together the precious, the incommunicable past. ” In the end, that was what they shared together. Works Cited Cather, Willa. My Antonia. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1954.