Chapter 7 Summary
In chapter 7, another first-person chapter, Frank describes the town where he and Cee grew up. According to him, Lotus, Georgia “is the worst place in the world, worse than any battlefield.” In battle, he explains, there is something to strive for. Battle demands courage. Battle offers a chance of success.
In contrast, Lotus has never held any such opportunities. It is a place where nobody has a future. In Lotus,
there [is] no goal other than breathing, nothing to win and, save for somebody else’s quiet death, nothing to survive or worth surviving for.
During Frank’s childhood in Loutus, only his friends and his sister kept him sane. His parents were too downtrodden to care about anything or anyone, and his grandparents were too full of hatred.
When Frank was a child, none of his neighbors had any education or wanted any. They all lived in the same falling-down shacks, and they all worked boring manual jobs in the fields. Someone else owned all the land, and none of the African American residents of Lotus had any chance of buying it. It was such bad land anyway that nobody in their right mind would have wanted it in the first place.
Most of the people of Lotus never hoped for anything but a place where they could sleep safely, a place where they would not wake up to find guns pointed at them, forcing them to move on because of the color of their skin. The adults in Frank's life seemed to think this type of safety was enough, but it was not enough for Frank. He wanted a life that held hope and opportunity. In Lotus, the very best he could get was a little pale fun. He could chase girls and have sex. He could get himself in trouble. On occasion there was a ball game or a chance to go hunting or fishing with the boys. That was all, and Frank wanted more.
This was why Frank and his friends, Mike and Stuff, joined the army. “Thank the Lord for the army,” he says. As a soldier, he got to go out and see the world. He did not miss Lotus at all, and nothing could have forced him back except his sister’s need.
As the chapter ends, Frank warns the author not to think too much of him for going to save Cee: “Don’t paint me as some enthusiastic hero,” he says. “I had to go but I dreaded it.”