Pages 312-315 Summary

Nearly everything that arrives into or leaves from Argus comes by truck, but Father Jude Miller does not like driving and arrives from Minneapolis by train. Though there is some kind of celebration happening in Argus, he is the only passenger to get off the train. The train continues its journey and the priest stands alone at the Argus depot. It is hot, and the heat “set[s] him at a boil.” He is here to discover the truth after reading a letter his mother gave him two days ago.

Miller is a warm, sensible man who is satisfied with his calling, and at first he was not even curious about the contents of the letter. His mother is weak and quite sick, so she is not particularly concerned about anything but her own health. Then he grows curious about Argus, the people, and the butcher shop. Now that he is here, he can see that there is nothing unusual about this town.

He begins to search for the butcher shop, walking down the main street with his jacket slung over one shoulder. The House of Meats is rather dilapidated but is still in business, though it has a closed sign on the door.

His red hair is curling in the humidity and his hands, which are generally long and nimble, now seem to belong to someone else. Suddenly the parade watchers surround him and he is “shoved and molded, arranged into a new form by the crowd’s hips and elbows.” Everything becomes a blur of noise and sound, and the only thing holding him together is the crush of the crowd. Once the crowd disperses, he will fall apart and even his clever hands will not be able to reshape him into his old form.