Chapter 8 Summary

Joe sneaks out of the house and dresses in his new suit in the stable. He is late for a date for which he has long prepared. He has bought a new watch but forgot to wind it. Joe’s date is a waitress at a dingy, backstreet restaurant. She is over thirty but small.

McEachern took Joe to the restaurant some time before; this is when Joe meets the waitress. McEachern warns Joe about going into a place like that. Joe knows the restaurant is more than a place to get food, but he does not know what else it is.

Joe returns to the restaurant another time when McEachern takes him into town and gives him a dime to spend. Joe goes to the restaurant to see the waitress. He does not see her at first, but finally she comes to take his order. He orders pie and coffee, then he changes his mind about the coffee when he learns the pie is ten cents. Afterward, Joe finds reasons not to go into town.

Eventually, Joe goes back to the restaurant, intent on paying for the coffee he ordered but could not accept. The manager thinks he is up to some kind of racket. Joe meets the waitress later outside and explains that he was afraid she had had to pay for the coffee herself. On another Saturday, Joe goes to town with the intention of having sex with the waitress. He is worried that he does not know exactly what to do. He thinks he will let her show him without letting her know how much he does not know. When they meet, the waitress tells him she is sick and cannot have sex. Joe does not quite understand until she explains that she is menstruating. He jerks away from her and accidentally strikes her. He runs away from her back down the road.

Joe returns to town on Monday night and meets the waitress again. They go to the house where she is staying with the owners of the restaurant. Max, the owner, offers Joe a drink, but the waitress becomes upset. Later they make love, and Joe sees her naked for the first time. Afterward, Joe tells her about his past. He tells her that he has some “nigger blood” in him. She does not believe him.

Joe continues to go to town to visit the waitress, stealing money from Mrs. McEachern to give to the waitress. He thinks the money is to placate Max and his wife, Mame, for the use of the room for sex. One night she does not meet him, so he goes to her home. He hears a man with her in her room. Two weeks later, Joe meets the waitress and beats her. He has finally figured out that she is a prostitute, which she thought he knew. Joe begins to smoke and drink, but he also continues to see the waitress.