Amos Fortune, Free Man

by Elizabeth Yates

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Who is Lois in the book Amos Fortune:  Free Man?

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Lois is a widow who lives with her many children in a small cabin down the Squantum Village road.  Her husband, Moses Burdoo, had passed away five years earlier, and since then, Lois has lived in poverty, unable to care properly for her family and "rise above the conditions of her life".  Amos Fortune goes to visit her often, hoping that "some of the good of his own life might spill over into hers that (is) hedged round by poverty and misfortune".  Lois's children love Amos, who tells them stories and sings with them.

Lois is the inadvertent cause of the only serious conflict in the marriage of Amos and Violet.  Amos, feeling sorry for Lois, wants to use the money he has painstakingly saved to buy a little house in the village for her and her children to help her get a new start in life.  Violet, on the other hand, has "small liking and less sympathy for Lois"; she thinks Lois is "shiftless" for being unable to rise above her circumstances.  Violet feels that Amos should help Lois by providing work for her older children, so that they can learn responsibility as they contribute to the support of the family.  Violet is so firm in her belief, that she takes the kettle in which Amos keeps his money, hiding it so that he cannot give his savings to the widow.

Amos and Violet are at a standoff concerning the matter for a number of days.  Violet, unused to standing up against her husband, finally decides to hold out for one more day before submitting to his judgment, even if he should persist in his desire to help Lois by buying her a house.  Amos, in the meantime, goes to the mountain to pray for guidance in the matter, and receives his answer when he hears a rumble from the mountain "like the roaring of the sea".  When he returns to his home, Violet has the hidden money ready for him to use as he sees fit.  Amos concedes that Violet is right, however, and determines to help Lois by providing work for her older children as Violet had suggested (Chapter 7 - "Hard Work Fills the Iron Kettle 1781-1789, Chapter 8 - "Amos on the Mountain").


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