Book 1, Chapters 9-10 Summary
Jane is tired of walking but is still determined to make it to Ohio. She and Ned are still walking through the swamps, and Jane must carry Ned much of the time because the water sometimes is as high as Jane’s waist. When they finally leave the swamp, the ground around them looks barren. There are no trees in sight, which means they will have no shade from the sun.
In the distance, Jane sees a small cabin and heads for it. When they get close, they see an old white man, who is not much taller than Jane is. The man sees how tired they are and offers them food. As Jane and Ned eat, the man answers Jane’s questions about where Ohio is. He points out where Louisiana is by going to a map that is tacked to the wall. He talks about things like latitude and longitude, but these things mean nothing to Jane. He shows her that Ohio is actually east of Louisiana, not north as Jane insists. Jane has trouble believing the man and asks him why she should she trust him. He tells her that she is asking a valid question but also asks why she should not trust him.
The man tells her that if she wants to get to Ohio, she will have to go through Mississippi. For some reason, Jane does not want to go through Mississippi. She would rather go through Arkansas, she tells the man. When she asks him how low her journey will take, the man creates a possible scenario for her. He says she might be able to walk five miles a day, but then he lists all the challenges she might face. Each challenge takes a mile or so off the distance she might cover until the man figures that at most she will walk only one mile each day. The man, who obviously is a good storyteller, also adds years to Jane’s journey by telling her that someone along the way will probably not know that slavery has ended and will take away her freedom, forcing her to work for him. The boy might get angry when someone mistreats Jane. Then they might have to run away so they are not put in jail. The man concludes his story by saying that it will take thirty or more years for Jane to make it to Ohio. With that big of a lapse of time, when (and if) she gets to Ohio and starts looking for her Mr. Brown, he probably will be dead.
After finishing the food the man has provided, Jane thanks the man and leaves. She has listened to his story but continues to believe that she...
(The entire section is 702 words.)