Chapter 19 Summary

As the district attorney, Gavin Stevens, puts the Hineses on the train, promising that the body of their grandson will soon follow so they could give him a decent burial, a college friend of Stevens’s arrives. Stevens explains the situation to his friend; he says he believed Joe’s inner struggle during his escape was based on the “differences” in his blood. Joe ran to the Negro cabin, then the church, because of the pull of his black blood. However, his white blood forced him out and into the home of the white minister, Reverend Hightower, where he was captured.

The point of view changes to that of Percy Grimm, a twenty-five-year-old captain in the State National Guard. He resents that he was too young to have fought in World War I and blames this on his parents. Grimm is ultra-patriotic and resents any insinuation against the United States’ involvement in the European conflict; this caused him to join the new National Guard. He was suspicious of a perceived atmosphere of unrest in Jefferson; he sees himself as an enforcer of the peace. He proposed that the National Guard stand armed around the courthouse during Christmas’s hearing, but the sheriff nixed the suggestion. With silent contempt, Grimm promised the sheriff that he would not interfere with the sheriff as long as the sheriff did not interfere with him. Later, when the sheriff found Grimm outside the jail bearing his weapon, he told the captain to keep his gun hidden. Grimm ambiguously agreed. After a quiet Sunday, Monday brought the crowds back to the jail. It was evident that Grimm was now in charge of the situation. Later, however, Grimm blamed the sheriff that situation got out of hand. If Grimm had been in charge, nothing would have happened. When Joe Christmas made a break for it, Grimm followed him. He chased him down the alleys of the town out to the Negro cabin and back. He kept track of him by the glint of sunlight on the handcuffs that Christmas still wore. He followed him into Reverend Hightower’s home and found the minister bleeding on the floor, having been struck down by Christmas. Grimm found Christmas hiding under a table. Grimm unloaded his pistol, striking in so close proximity that a folded handkerchief could cover all the bullet holes. The other men found Grimm stooping over Christmas, cutting off his privates, vowing that Christmas would leave white women alone even in hell.