James (JD) Dittes Jim Burden never fits into Black Hawk, despite his love for it. I think the revelation he encounters in the final section, "Cusak's Boys," as he see Antonia's happiness and her large brood of kids, is made sharper with the realization that he went to school in Lincoln, then Boston, and lives in New York City with a striving suffragette who could care less when he leaves on his long, western excursions for the railroad.
Will Thoele The character who wrote the book is a female childhood friend who remains unnamed. He marries Genevieve Whitney. You can find this in "Willa Cather's Original Introduction to the 1918 Edition"
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) My edition had an afterword by Cather, in which she says that Jim was a "real person" and gave her his memories of Antonia written down, and she put them into book form. Of all the tired old tropes. But I guess it was stock for the period in which it was written. If you read the end carefully Jim never married, he just got into railroad business. And yet in the afterword Cather rabbits on about a supposed wife Jim married that Cather disliked, who had money and ran around partying and ignoring Jim. Which I thought was kind of a nasty way to treat her protagonist, if he was supposedly such a good friend.