After Commencement Jim begins studying Latin seriously for college. Only once during the summer does he take a break to go pick elders with the hired girls. Arriving at the river first and going swimming, he realizes he's going to miss Black Hawk and the country. The girls arrive when he's still in the water, and he gradually makes his way over to where they are. He comes up on Ántonia by herself and finds her crying because a certain type of flower is making her homesick. When she asks whether he thinks her father is back in the old country, Jim tells her how he felt her father's spirit in the house the day he died, and Ántonia feels better. She tells him how her father honorably married her mother, who was a servant, when she got pregnant and how her father's family never forgave the two of them. Jim is happy because Ántonia seems exactly the same as she did when he first met her and he tells her he will one day visit her homeland.
Lena appears, looking like she does in Jim's sexual dreams, and he leaps up to help her pick elders. In the hot afternoon, they all sit around and talk. Ántonia becomes irritated when Lena behaves flirtatiously towards Jim. The girls discuss how it is difficult for older adults to make the transition to a new country and how difficult it is to be the oldest child when more babies keep arriving. They play a game called "Pussy Wants a Corner," and then Jim tells them about how Coronado the Spanish explorer came as far West as Black Hawk. As they sit in silence, the clouds disappear, and all of a sudden, they see a distant black figure on the horizon. Jumping up to see what it is, they realize that someone had left a plow standing in the field, and it looks molten red and glowing against the backdrop of the sun. The image only lasts for a moment as the sun continues to set.
In the previous chapter Jim dedicates his commencement speech to Ántonia's father and calls the hug she gives him the most poignant moment in his life. In this...