Chapters 1-2 Summary

George Eliot, Jr., known as Snookum, is the narrator. He is eating with his siblings and his grandmother, Grand Mon, who lives in the worker’s quarters of the Marshall Plantation. Candy, who is part owner of Marshall Plantation, comes running to the house crying for Grand Mon. Grand Mon commands the boys to stay at the table and goes outside to find Candy extremely upset. Toddy, Snookum’s brother, warns Snookum that he is free from his revenge since finding Snookum and Minnie playing “papa and mama” in the weeds. Candy calls for Snookum and tells him to run to all the men who work on the plantation and tell them to meet at Mathu’s house as quickly as possible. She also orders him to tell Miss Merle at the Big House to call Mr. Lou and have him come.

Snookum runs first to Mathu’s house, where he finds the tractor running but no one on it. He sees Mathu sitting with a shotgun and asks him where Charlie is. Mathu tells him to mind his own business, but Snookum sees Beau Boutan, who rents the Marshall Plantation, lying on his back with a shotgun wound. Snookum rushes to the Big House and calls for Janey, the housekeeper. He tells her to call Miss Merle (a neighbor) and Mr. Lou to come home. He sees Major, another resident of the Big House, drunk and lying in the hammock even though it is only noon. Snookum tells Janey he saw Beau shot and lying in the weeds. When Janey will not give him anything for delivering the message, he heads back home.

Janice Robinson (Janey) prays for mercy and tries to call both Mr. Lou and Miss Merle, but neither answers. As she continues to pray, Janey nervously dusts and notices Miss Bea, an elderly woman, hunting for pecans in the weeds. Janey worries that Miss Bea will get bitten by a snake and she will be to blame. Janey keeps on dusting until she sees Miss Merle approach the house. Janey tells her the news, which upsets Miss Merle. She tries to wake the Major (Jack), but Janey informs her that he has been passed out drunk since eleven o’clock. She tells Janey to keep on praying. She fears that Fix Boutan, Beau’s father, and his friends will take awful revenge against the Blacks for the death of his son. She gets back into the car and drives down to Mathu’s house in the worker’s quarters.