Chapters 5-6 Summary

Mathew Lincoln Brown (Mat) narrates. When he returns home, he hands his sack of fish to his wife, Ella, and phones Clatoo, but he had just left with his shotgun. He then calls Billy Washington, whose wife tells him that Billy left in the truck with Clatoo, also carrying his gun. She thought they were going to the Old Mulatto Place where Jacob Aguillard lives. Jacob does not have a phone but he can call a neighbor, Leola. Clatoo has just pulled up in front of the house when Mat calls, so Mat has Leola give her late husband’s gun and some shells to Clatoo. As Mat makes these calls, Ella overhears and asks where he is going with all these guns. Mat tells her he is going hunting, but he will not tell her for what. She demands to know, and Mat eventually tells her he is finally standing up for something. He is standing up for their son, Oliver, who was left to die in the hospital because he was Black. Ella threatens to call the police, so Mat tears the phone out of the wall.

Mat jumps in the back of the truck when Clatoo passes by. Other old men are there as well, besides Billy and Jacob: Chimley and Cherry. The plan is to stop by the field and walk across to the Marshall Plantation. Mat asks Chimley how he is feeling, and Chimley admits he is scared.

Grant Bello (Cherry) narrates now. Clatoo stops for Yank, who is waiting behind a bush by the road. Dirty Red joins the group later. When the truck reaches a cane field, Clatoo stops the truck and tells the men to hop out because he has another load to pick up. The men walk across the cane field, and Billy fires at a rabbit but misses. The other men tease him for missing such an easy target, and Billy feels ashamed.

The men reach the old graveyard where their families have been buried since slavery times. Each stops to visit the unmarked graves and remember each person and the struggles they had. They believe this is why they are doing what they are doing—to make up for all those times. They are not standing up just for themselves but for their ancestors. Dirty Red, eating pecans he has picked up along the ground, reckons that some of them might be returning to the graveyard after the events of the day. Clatoo comes with another load of men. Clatoo makes sure everyone has an empty shell. After determining that no one wants to turn back, Clatoo leads the men forward.