The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Chapter 12 Summary
by Christopher Paul Curtis

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Chapter 12 Summary

The heat is stifling in Birmingham. When Kenny awakens after a fitful sleep on his first morning at Grandma Sands's house, he finds that Byron is already gone from the bed they share. Looking out the window, Kenny sees Byron, Dad, and Mr. Robert standing under a tree with a dog, and he quickly runs out "to be with the guys." Mr. Robert tells the boys that they will soon become accustomed to the heat. He says the dog, Toddy, "won't hunt no more." Mr. Robert relates that, in his day, Toddy was "the best coon dog in all Alabama," but now, just like Mr. Robert himself, the dog has gotten old and is at the point where "his mind [tells] him to do [something] but his body [won't] cooperate." Showing his obvious fondness for the dog, Mr. Robert tells the guys that he and Toddy have saved each others' lives. When Byron asks how he saved the dog's life, Mr. Robert describes an incident that happened one day while they were out hunting. Toddy had flushed out an especially crafty coon and had chased him into the water; the coon had turned around and held the dog's head underwater "till he drowneded him." Mr. Roberts rescued Toddy from the water, dragged him to shore, and turned him upside down to get the water out of him. He then held the dog's mouth shut while he breathed right into his nose until Toddy regained consciousness. The boys are impressed with Mr. Robert's story. Kenny realizes he is hungry and asks Dad when they are going to eat. Dad replies that he is the only one who has not eaten yet and instructs him to go in to see his mother and grandmother in the kitchen.

Kenny finds Momma and Grandma Sands conversing animatedly. Momma is asking a million questions, catching up on what has been going on in the area since she left to marry Dad, and Grandma Sands is "yakking" right along, laughing with a cackle that reminds Kenny of the Wicked Witch of the West from the movie The Wizard of Oz. Joey is sitting drowsily on Momma's lap, and Kenny gets some breakfast and sits at the table with everyone while Momma and Grandma Sands talk some more; he listens as the two women discuss

how much trouble people (are) having with some white people down here, who got married to who,...

(The entire section is 619 words.)