Chapters 15-16 Summary
Lou Dimes narrates; he sits in the car with Candy, but she is not speaking to him. He tells her there is going to be a big change in her life after this night. Mathu freed her when he pushed her hand off his arm when she was trying to hold him back. Mathu no longer needs her to protect him. He is an old man, and he wants to live the rest of his life in his own way. Lou tells Candy that before he leaves he wants an answer from her concerning marriage. If he does not get any answer, he will not be coming back. In reply, Candy slaps his face. Lou thanks her and says he will stick around just to get an end for the newspaper story he will write about this day.
An old man comes out of the house and asks for the sheriff, who has walked off, further into the quarters. Lou blinks the car lights and Mapes comes walking back. Mapes invites Lou and Candy to come listen to what there is to hear. They find Charlie sitting there. Charlie insists repeatedly that he is a man: a boy runs away but a man faces the consequences. He is fifty years old but he is always been treated like a boy. Charlie explains what happened that day.
Beau had cussed at him, and Charlie decided he had taken enough. When Charlie told him he quit, Beau beat him with a stalk of cane but Charlie beat him back. Beau fell to the ground with blood streaming from his head, and Charlie panicked and thought he killed him. He ran to Mathu’s cabin and begged Mathu to take the blame. He said Mathu was old and would soon die anyway. He could die in prison as easily as at home. When he heard Candy’s car, Charlie took off running and hid down by the river. After several hours, he felt called to return to the house and face the situation like a man. He tells Mapes he is ready to go. Before they can leave the house, they hear Luke Will ordering Mapes to hand Charlie over.
Sidney Brooks (Coot) narrates now. The old men tell Mapes they are ready to fight. Mapes points out that their guns are empty, but they tell him that all day long they have been collecting shells for this minute. Mapes goes out to the porch. Griffin decides he will not take Mapes’s side against White men to protect some “niggers.” Luke Will fires and strikes Mapes in the arm. The old men in the house open fire at Luke Will and his gang, who take cover behind the tractor. Coot remembers his days as a soldier in World War I. He has not felt so good since then.