Chapter 9 Summary

McEachern lies in bed, thinking of the suit he saw hidden in the barn. He could tell it had been worn, and he concludes that Joe has used it in pursuit of “lechery.” He looks out the window and barely catches sight of Joe climbing down a rope from his room. Joe walks down the lane, where he is picked up by a passing car. McEachern rushes out, saddles the horse, and follows him. He rides to the school building where he knows a dance is being held. He enters the school and sees Joe dancing with the waitress. He approaches the couple, calls the waitress a harlot, and strikes Joe; he does not see Joe’s face but Satan’s. Joe grabs a chair and beats McEachern with it. McEachern drops to the floor with blood streaming from his forehead. Two men have to hold back the waitress, who is screaming because McEachern called her a harlot. She rushes out the door and Joe soon follows. When he tries to stop her, she beats him in the face and takes off in the car. Joe finds McEachern’s horse and mounts it but ends up going home.

Joe is exultant, proclaiming the fulfillment of his promise to kill McEachern someday. Mrs. McEachern is awake, but Joe brushes her aside. He goes to his room; Mrs. McEachern follows. He retrieves his money hidden under the floorboard. He tells Mrs. McEachern that he never asked her for it because he was afraid she would just give it to him. He then takes off on the horse.

Joe rides the horse through the main street of town, beating it with a section of broom handle that he retrieved from Mrs. McEachern’s flowerbed. The horse is galloping more slowly than a man could walk, but Joe continues to beat it until it stops by the curb. Joe dismounts and tries to drag the horse forward. He cannot, so he beats it until his stick breaks. Joe walks away from the horse and does not look back.

He goes to the waitress’s house, where he imagines her waiting for him ready to leave, although he never actually made plans with her. He hears voices within and knocks on the door. At length, Max lets him in. Joe rushes to the waitress’s room, where she is indeed dressed and ready to leave, but there is a man there with whom she plans to return to Memphis. Max asks Joe if he really killed McEachern, but Joe is not sure. The waitress is irate that Joe would drag her into such a mess. She says that Joe has “nigger blood” in him. The man strikes Joe in the face, knocking him down; Joe is unable to move. He continues to beat Joe until the waitress stops him.