In the beginning of this novel we meet a successful railroad lawyer named Jim Burden. He is writing a memoir of his friend Antonia. Jim finds that a childhood friend of his, Antonia Shimerda (Tony) represents the whole adventure of his childhood. The novel then goes on to tell how he met Tony, when they became neighbors living with his grandparents on their Nebraska Farm. In their early childhood together that had great adventures roaming around the prairie. They grew up and somewhat apart, but managed to stay friends. When Antonia had to help out her family after her father's suicide, and how Jim went on to further his education. While Jim graduated from Harvard, Antonia is at home with her baby which Jim felt was very courageous of her. Twenty years had passed and Jim meets Tony again to find her happily married with ten children on a farm.
As their reunion was a happy one.
This story tells us of immigration in the new world, and how it was a difficult experience for some. In the early 1880's Jim, is going from his life in Virginia to his new life in Nebraska. Along with him are the Shimerdas, who are immigrating from Bohemia. They immigrated to America because Mrs. Shimerda wanted to see her eldest son Ambrosch find success. They find hardships, when arriving to America, with little money and experience in farming and also the fact that they don't speak any English makes it even harder on them. The immigrants barely survive the first winter. And tragic struck when Mr. Shimerda who was homesick and gave in and committed suicide. There is some tension between the Americans and the immigrants. Like the town families look down on the immigrant daughters who come to town...