Chapter 5: 1923 Summary

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One day, Hannah brought Eve a basket of Kentucky Wonders and asked if she ever truly loved her children. Eva scolded Hannah for asking such a question, reminding her daughter that 1895 was a different time; she reminisces about the past, recalling the day her husband left her and the three beets, which were all that he left them with. As Eve remembers her life then, she reminds her daughter that there was no time for love, only for survival, declaring that Hannah would have died if she did not love her.

Hannah continued, asking her mother why she chose to set Plum on fire.  Eva responded by saying that she did so because he was trying to escape reality through his drug use, and she wanted him to face death with bravery.

This interaction aside, the day proved itself an odd one. The weather was erratic and violently windy, but most people were pleased, as they believed it was a sign of upcoming rain. Later, Hannah took a nap and dreamt of getting married in a red dress. During breakfast, she shared the dream with her mother and served her scrambled eggs without the whites as a symbol of good luck for their chosen lottery number. Both of them were confident that the dream number was 522 and did not bother to look it up. 

Hannah went outside to start a fire to preserve food in cans; Eva watched her from the window. After leaving the window to search for her missing comb, Eva returned to see that Hannah was engulfed in flames. In an effort to save her daughter, Eva threw herself through the window and tried to use her own body to extinguish the flames. Despite Eva's efforts, Hannah continued to move and could not be reached in time. Mr. and Mrs. Suggs attempted to put out the fire by pouring a tub of hot water, containing tomatoes, on Hannah, but it was too late. Hannah ultimately died, likely on the way to the hospital, with her mother suffering from wounds sustained during the rescue attempt by her side in the ambulance.

Eva would have died from blood loss at the hospital if not for the attentive care of the orderly, Willy Fields. Despite his efforts to save her, Eva held a grudge against him for thirty-seven years and cursed him daily, but her memory faded and she stopped cursing him before she passed away at ninety years old.

Later, Eva concludes that the red color in Hannah's dream of a wedding in a red dress represented flames and that the wedding was actually a symbol of death. She also remembered and shared with others that she had seen Sula watching, motionless, as Hannah burned.

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Chapter 4: 1922 Summary


Chapter 6: 1927 Summary