Alexandra Bergson's father, John, is dying. He entrusts his farmstead on a desolate stretch of plain to her, rather than to her brothers. Faced with the rigors of frontier living, droughts, and penury, Alexandra only becomes more determined to carry on her father's legacy and battles through remortgaging the farm and adopting new techniques. Fast forward 16 years, her hard work has paid off, her brothers Lou and Oscar have both created prosperous farms, and under Alexandra's management the original farm has thrived. When childhood friend Carl Linstrum returns from traveling it appears that romance is on the cards, but Lou and Oscar drive him out of town, fearing that their sister's marriage would disinherit their own children. The community begins to unravel as jealousy spills out into murder.
When Jim Burden writes a memoir of his childhood in Black Hawk, Nebraska, his story keeps returning to Ántonia--the Bohemian immigrant girl who became his closest friend. Together, Jim and Ántonia endured heartbreaks and hardships on the Nebraska frontier, developing a deep bond that lasted across the years. Looking back, Jim tries to sort reality from nostalgia and come to terms with his feelings for Ántonia--realizing what she truly meant to him.