Character Analysis Anton Cuzak


Anton Jelinek's cousin, Anton Cuzak, enters the novel in the last book. When Jim returns to Black Hawk and meets Ántonia's family, he also meets her husband, Anton Cuzak. Jim was aware she had married because she had signed an earlier letter to Jim "Ántonia Cuzak." Before meeting Anton, Jim is told about him from both Tiny and Lena. Tiny says Ántonia has not "done very well" and Cuzak is "not a man of much force" so Ántonia has had a hard life. But that picture is softened by Lena who says, "There's nothing the matter with Cuzak. You'd like him. He isn't a hustler, but a rough man would never have suited Tony." And so, Jim meets Ántonia's husband with these varying ideas in his mind.

His reaction to Anton is that he is a "crumpled little man" with a curly moustache, black hair, red lips, and a ruddy color. He is immediately drawn to Anton's good nature and humor. Also, Jim sees that Anton completes Ántonia: "she was the impulse and he the corrective." Anton's frankness, his good nature and his humorous philosophy draw Jim closer to Ántonia's family.

Cuzak's history goes back to parents and relatives who worked hard in the Old Country. Anton apprenticed with them and worked in a fur shop in Vienna. As a young man, he found the work good, the money plentiful, and life filled with lots of social events and very little financial savings. Eventually, he came to Nebraska by way of New York and Florida. Hearing that his cousin was in Nebraska, he visited Anton Jelinek and was smitten by Ántonia.

They married and had ten children, in addition to Martha, Ántonia's first child, fathered by Larry Donovan. This large family and their farm keep Anton and Ántonia anchored and down to earth. They now own the farm free and clear, but every so often Anton is offered good money for it and he thinks about leaving. Throughout these years Ántonia has talked him out of leaving, and they appear to complement each other. Even though, in the Old World, Anton was a "man of the city," who liked theatres, lighted streets, and music, he is now a part of Black Hawk, and Tony's warm heart has kept him here. Although Anton would like to visit Europe again, he is a quiet and companionable husband for Ántonia. Always he is drawn back to the farm, just like Jim Burden, by Ántonia's warm heart and loving spirit. Jim finds Anton a sociable and friendly man, a good companion for the future when he returns to visit his prairie roots.

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