Chapter 8 Summary

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Chapter 8, a third-person chapter, tells the story of Frank and Cee’s step-grandmother, Lenore Money. As the chapter begins, Lenore reflects on Jackie, the twelve-year-old girl she has hired to help clean her house. Jackie is a fascinating creature, half-child and half-adult. In her free time, she is always climbing trees or playing ball with the other children. In her work, she is as competent as an adult. The only thing she does poorly is mopping floors, but Lenore blames her poor-quality mop for that.

Lenore wants a new mop, but her husband, Salem, will not bother to go to town and get her one. Lenore’s first husband was a better man, willing to do as she asked and also capable of earning money. He owned his own gas station until someone shot him and left a note on his chest that said, “Get the hell out. Now.” The sheriff never bothered to investigate the murder, as far as Lenore knows. She was frightened enough to leave town, but she did at least retain a bit of money and property.

After her first husband’s murder, Lenore was scared to live alone. This was why she married Salem, who could protect her and also help her by repairing her house. The two of them could not get a marriage license because they had no birth certificates, but they did exchange vows at the local church.

Soon after Lenore married Salem, a group of his relatives showed up from Texas, desperate for help. After they moved in, Lenore no longer had any privacy or control over her household. The worst was the baby, Cee, who cried all the time and prevented Lenore from sleeping. As the child grew up, Lenore had to babysit her so the mother could get an extra job. Thankfully, the girl’s brother, Frank, did most of the childcare work himself.

Still, Cee was a trial for Lenore, a worthless child who was too awkward even to keep herself clean. Lenore whipped her a good deal, but nothing good came of her anyway. Cee ended up running off with that no-good boy who stole Lenore’s car.

Now Lenore is alone again, except for Salem. She is unhappy, and her only comforts are her money and property. She complains to Jackie all day while the girl works—at least until the day Lenore beats Jackie’s dog. The girl immediately quits and refuses to return to Lenore's house.

After that, Lenore grows worried and suffers a stroke. She is left disabled, and her speech is slurred. Salem claims he cannot understand her anymore, but she thinks he only pretends not to understand because he does not want to do as she asks. The neighborhood women stop by every day to help her, but they do not try to hide the fact that they hate her.

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Chapter 9 Summary