“The movement from possession to loss, from union to separation, is the deep and central pattern of Jim Burden’s experience in My Antonia.” (Fisher-Wirth) I believe that this quote given by the critic Fisher-Wirth somewhat explains the life of Jim Burden and that although he went through both gains and losses throughout his life; he learned the meaning and purpose of his life with Antonia.
In the beginning of the novel, Jim had a family but was soon abandoned by them do to both of their deaths. He was then on his way to his grandparents house in Nebraska to begin a new and different life. At this point, he began a union with both his grandparents as well as Antonia.
Antonia and Jim became very close friends and went through many childhood experiences together. Their friendship was soon torn apart when Ambrosch and Jake engaged in a quarrel which separated the two families for quite some time. But once again, the families resolve their differences and become close again. (Chapter 1)
When Chapter 2 begins, Jim and his family are separated from Antonia’s because of their new move to town. After this separation, Jim and Antonia were brought together again when Antonia came to work in town. This pattern repeats once again as the result of Jim going off to college. He loses touch with Antonia but then, through Lena, becomes connected to Antonia again. As a result of this, Jim goes back home to visit for a short time and then leaves for New York. Finally, twenty years later, Jim travels back to see Antonia and her new, “enlarged” family. He was glad to see that Antonia was finally happy again and enjoyed meeting all her children as well as her husband.
With Jim’s trip back to Black Hawk, he was able to tie his whole life together. After leaving Antonia’s home, Jim felt that his life had made a circle. He realized that through all his gains and losses, the past that he shared with Antonia was so precious. But, he also knew that the road he traveled after leaving Antonia’s was the road that they traveled on throughout their childhood. He knew at this point that that road would bring them together again. Jim found what he was looking for. He found the connection between him and Antonia, and even though it wasn’t the love he thought he wanted, he realized it was a friendship that will always bring them together again. (372)