Ultimately, more than the photographs or the mental images, it is the surrounding prairie landscape that comes to serve as an icon of the childhood idyll that Ántonia and Jim earlier share. After parting once again from Ántonia, Jim finds resolution and strength in a walk among the familiar, silent places of his youth, illustrating how the past still has a tremendous power to comfort him.

Although the road leading out to the old farms is largely grown over, it still serves as a useful landmark to those aware of its presence. Likewise, the map of memory is a key to the present for those who have lived through the past. In returning to his roots, Jim is taken by “what a little circle man’s experience is” and resolves to renew his relationship with Ántonia and develop a bond with her family. Regardless of the missing years between them, Jim finds the key to a future with his childhood friend in the richness of what they hold in common—“the precious, the incommunicable past.” Jim meditates on this shared past once again as the landscape closest to his heart lies quietly beneath the darkness that surrounds him.