Chapters 16-17 Summary
In Chapter 16, a third-person chapter, Cee and Frank argue. She learned how to make quilts while she was healing, and now, for some reason, Frank wants her to give up the first quilt she ever made. She refuses for a while, but he is so fixated on the idea that she gives in. As she does so, she tells herself that she will not make a habit of giving away the things she wants. “I don’t want Frank making decisions for me,” she thinks.
Carrying the quilt over his shoulder and a shovel in his hand, Frank leads the way out of Lotus. At first, Cee does not know where they are going, but eventually she recognizes the fields they visited as children. Most of the fences have fallen down, and the buildings have burned.
As Cee watches, Frank stomps on the ground, looking for a particular spot. When he finds it, he begins to dig. It does not take him long to unearth the skeleton of the man they saw buried that day when they were children. The sight upsets Cee, but she refuses to hide her face. She does not want to be weak the way she was as a little girl.
Frank and Cee lay the quilt on the ground, and then Frank arranges the bones on top. He ties up the quilt and carries it gingerly to the stream. There they find an old tree that is badly damaged, its trunk split apart, but still alive. Beneath this tree, Frank digs a proper grave for the man who was forced to die like a dog.
While Frank works, Cee glimpses a stranger in a zoot suit across the stream. He looks like the man Frank saw in his hallucinations during his journey toward Lotus, but she does not know this. She asks who is watching them, but the stranger disappears before Frank spots him.
When the hole is ready, Frank and Cee lay the dead man’s bones, wrapped in the quilt, inside. As the sun sets, they fill in the grave, and Frank nails a marker on the tree. “Here Stands a Man,” it says. He reflects that this is probably “wishful thinking” but feels the words are right anyway.
In Chapter 17, a brief first-person chapter written with broken lines like a free verse poem, Frank stands staring at the tree. He thinks:
It looked so strong
Hurt right down the middle
But alive and well.
It seems clear that Frank, too, is hurt to his core but still alive. As Home ends, Cee taps him on the shoulder, and the two of them head for home.