My Antonia: Jim Burden

The final line in the novel, stated by Jim “Whatever we had missed, we possesed together the precious, the incommunicable past”, highlights the past relationship between Jim and Antonia and how these past experiences that they have shared are now only memories. These memories that Jim and Antonia have shared together through photos and. are a reliable source of the past for them but not for others to have an insight into their past. Only Jim and Antonia have the knowledge to really remember what they felt in the past to help them get through and be experienced for things happening in their lives in the present and future lives.

The last line of a novel really represent the story as a whole nicely. Jim’s last line starts by him saying “Whatever we had missed,” referring to, that although him and Antonia had not seen eachother in many years and therefore missed out on many crucial events in each other’s life, for example Jim missing out on Entonia’s children’s childhood.

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He carries on to finish the line by saying “we possesed together the precious, the incommunicable past” so even though they had missed out on many years of each others precious lives, they still had the common ground of their childhood past that they spent together and the everlasting memories that these experiences had and impacted their lives on. In the last chapter, once Jim and Antonia meet up again and look through old photos to reflect and remember their old memories, Jim describes this “precious past” that Antonia and him had as being “incommunicable” because the photos for Jim and Antonia can spark the feeling, smells and senses that they had felt that day, helping them to fully remember go back to the past, but for other people they show the photos to or even try to describe this is incommunicable as any memories to can be helpful to getting a small idea of what it was the memory was, but no one would ever be able to fully understand every feeling, thought and experience that Jim and Antonia had in each new day of adventures in their past as the photos and people can only describe so much, but some feelings just cannot be explained in words, only can they experience it by being in the moment, in which they weren’t.

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To make memories what they are, the experiences that people are reflecting on have to be memorable in some sort to therefore make it stand out enough in their lives to become memories. The best memories that Jim and Antonia shared were some of the best days of not only their childhood but the best and most memorable days of their lives. The novel’s epigraph states that “Optima dies prima fugit” (The best days are the first to flee). “The best days are” in this epigraph are written and can be interpreted as talking about the past or the future, but not the present, meaning that these days are most likely going to be memories shared and experienced in the past. The best days are always going to be in the past, and this is shown in the novel as many characters bring up the past memories of their lives to compare and contrast to the experiences that they are going through in the present.

Peter and Pavel’s past memory of them getting forced to leave their native home of Russia after an incident with them being in a wedding and getting attacked by wolves, get brought up in the text to help all the other characters in the present understand why Pavel falls sick and why they have migrated to America. The second part of the epigraph that these days “are the first to flee” as the best memories are the hardest to explain to others because to explain that feeling that they had when they were in that good day is near impossible to try to explain to someone else who may have not have felt some of those feelings before. This relates to what jim says in his quote about the past being “communicable” because other people just don’t know how they exactly felt on that day.

As seen in the text, memories are a reliable source and reflection for the person that actually experienced these days in the past, but these days are the first to flee as they are “communicable” to other people, therefore making them “the first to flee” as these stories and memories cannot be fully passed on to other people.

Cite this page

My Antonia: Jim Burden. (2019, Nov 24). Retrieved from

My Antonia: Jim Burden

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