Chapter 2 Summary

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In Chapter 2, Frank Money’s story resumes in the third person. Now he is an adult, tied to a bed in a mental hospital. It is late at night, and he is pretending to be asleep, hoping to trick the doctors into skipping his medication and loosening his restraints so that he can escape.

Frank is determined to get out of the hospital, even if he has to use violence to do so. He needs to travel to Georgia and find his little sister. According to a note he received a few days ago, she is in some kind of trouble, and she will die if he does not rescue her.

As he waits for his chance to run, Frank ponders the problem of clothes. He has a pair of pants and an army jacket, but no shoes. Walking in the snow with no shoes could be a problem; police may suspect him of vagrancy and haul him back to the hospital or to jail.

A couple of hours before sunrise, Frank manages to get out of the hospital. He runs, barefoot and freezing, to the AME Zion Church, where a poor black reverend helps him. Frank cannot remember why he got tossed in a mental hospital, but he says that he probably did something violent. The reverend gives Frank food and a pair of galoshes, the only shoes in the house that will fit him, so he can travel on. The reverend’s family also provides seventeen dollars, all the money they have, to pay for a part of Frank’s journey.

On the bus and train trips that follow, Frank spends most of his time thinking about the panicky and sometimes violent episodes he has occasionally experienced since serving in the Korean War. Around his girlfriend, Lily, he does not struggle with them so much. Now that he has left Lily to go find his sister, he is not sure he can keep himself sane. He resolves to drink very little and to try to control himself. As he thinks all this, he repeatedly catches glimpses of a small man wearing a zoot suit who does not seem to be real.

Frank’s journey is difficult. He is treated with contempt by the next minister he asks for help. He has trouble with bathrooms, because many stops only have bathrooms available for whites. On a train to Chicago, he sees an African American man bleeding and asks what happened. A waiter tells Frank that the man tried to buy coffee at a whites-only shop. The customers attacked him for it, and the victim’s wife tried to help. Frank reflects that the man will probably beat his wife when they get home. This, Frank thinks, is only natural. After all, the wife made her husband suffer the double humiliation of being abused by white people and helped by a woman at the same time.

At the next stop, Frank goes to a restaurant that serves black customers. There, a man named Billy hears Frank's story and offers a place to sleep for the night. They go to Billy's house, where Frank meets Billy's eleven-year-old son, Thomas, who has one limp arm. Frank asks about the disability and learns that when the boy was a small child, he was shot by a white police officer who mistook the child's toy gun for a real one. The experience turned the child studious, and Billy says Thomas will make a good life for himself because he is so smart. Before going to bed, Frank asks what Thomas wants to be when he grows up. “A man,” the boy replies.

In the morning, Billy takes Frank to the Goodwill to buy some better clothes, and then Frank continues his journey.

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Chapter 3 Summary