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A Death in the Family

A Death in the Family Summary


Here you will find a A Death in the Family summary (James Agee's book).
We begin with a summary of the entire book, and then you can read each individual chapter's summary by visiting the links on the "Chapters" section.

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Last Updated: Monday 1 Jan, 2024

A Death in the Family Summary Overview

The story begins with Rufus, a young boy, and his father, Jay, who share a special bonding time during a trip to the cinema. On their way back home, they stop at a pub where Jay gets a drink. Later that night, Jay receives a phone call from his alcoholic brother, Ralph, informing him of their father's heart attack. Doubtful of Ralph's credibility due his intoxicated state, but realizing the risk involved, Jay decides to go check on their father. Meanwhile, Jay's wife, Mary, wrestles with her feelings of animosity towards her father-in-law as she prays for the strength to love him and for her husband's religious awakening, a contentious point in their marriage. The following day, Mary informs their children that Jay has gone to see their grandfather and will return by nightfall. Jay, however, finds that Ralph had exaggerated their father's condition, leaving him frustrated for making the trip. Meanwhile, Rufus's great-aunt Hannah takes him shopping and gifts him a new cap. That evening, Mary receives a distressing phone call indicating Jay's involvement in an accident and that a male relative should be sent over. After a tense wait with Hannah and her parents, Mary's brother Andrew confirms her worst fear - that Jay is dead, killed instantly in a car accident caused by a mechanical failure. The following day, Rufus wakes up excited to show his new cap to his father, only to be met with the devastating news of his father's death. The news leaves him and his sister Catherine in a state of confusion. The children, dressed by Hannah, attend their father's wake at their grandparents' house. Later, Rufus learns from Andrew about a beautiful butterfly that had landed on their father's coffin during the burial service, offering some solace. But Andrew's anger towards the priest for refusing to read the full burial service due to Jay's unbaptized status, leaves Rufus pondering whether his uncle also resents Mary and Hannah for their religious inclinations.

chapter 1

Jay, Rufus's dad, takes him to watch a movie, despite his mom, Mary's disapproval. Mary considers Charlie Chaplin, the movie's star, a "vulgar little man." Nevertheless, the father-son duo enjoys the film, with Rufus silently noting his reading skills when seeing the store signs. Jay, often referred to as "the boy's father" or "his father," decides to visit a bar before heading home. He lifts Rufus onto the bar and brags about the boy's superior reading skills at his age. This leaves Rufus feeling embarrassed, as he believes his father wishes he were more of a fighter: "You don't brag about smartness if your son is brave." Jay and Rufus, on their way home, pause on a limestone outcrop in an empty lot. This spot, where they often rest after the movies, is a moment of bonding for them. Rufus senses his father's unhurried demeanor and his enjoyment of their shared quiet moments. They sit silently, observing the stars and trees, and Jay shares a tender moment, smoothing Rufus's hair and drawing him close. Arriving home, Rufus catches his father telling Mary he'll "be back before they're asleep." Rufus later falls into a deep sleep. The following morning, when Mary explains his father's absence at breakfast, he barely remembers the explanation, questioning his own memory even years later.

chapter 2

In the early hours, Jay receives a cryptic call from his brother Ralph who appears inebriated and emotional. Ralph suggests their father, Grampa Follet, may be dying. Consulting with his wife Mary, Jay resolves to travel and check on the situation. He gets dressed thoughtfully, trying not to disturb their sleeping children. As he prepares, Jay contemplates Mary's considerate nature and his own mixed feelings about his father, Grampa Follet. He tidies the bed before leaving, intending to keep it warm for Mary. While Mary readies breakfast, Jay shaves. Upon his return, he finds a satisfying spread of food waiting, with pancakes in the works. Despite lacking appetite, he eats eagerly to show gratitude. Mary advises him to eat only what he can comfortably manage, but he finishes the meal. They chat leisurely, with Jay inquiring about her birthday wishes, and whether they ought to wake the children to bid him goodbye. They decide it's best to let them sleep. Before he leaves, Mary tucks a fresh handkerchief into his pocket and they share a farewell kiss. Jay struggles to start their old Ford, the engine growling in protest. Once he's gone, Mary returns to the warmth of their bed, enjoying the hot milk he prepared for her, pleased to find the bed neatly made.

chapter 3

Jay leaves the city of Knoxville, transitioning into a rural area with dilapidated houses. The sight of these impoverished homes saddens him. He reaches the river around dawn and awakens the ferryman to cross. His car is loaded onto the ferry and he exchanges words with the ferryman. Questioned about his early travel, Jay reveals his father is seriously ill. The ferryman expresses his well wishes. As they near the other shore, they notice a covered wagon. The ferryman speculates that its occupants have been waiting for a while. Upon disembarking, Jay contemplates that the wagon's passengers are likely market-bound and will now be significantly delayed. He moves on, delving deeper into the countryside, his "home country." This familiarity comforts him and he quickens his pace.

chapter 4

Mary struggles to sleep, her mind filled with thoughts of Jay and his ailing father, Grampa Follet. She acknowledges her dislike for the old man, not due to disdain, as many relatives suggest, but because of his obliviousness to his flaws and the leniency others show him. This extends to her frustration with Jay's mother's constant patience towards her husband. Anger rises within Mary as she reproaches herself for her negative thoughts towards a dying man. She reminds herself of his virtues, such as his generosity and kindness. However, she fails to overcome her dislike, attributing it to his inherent weakness that burdens others without remorse or awareness: "It was a kind of weakness which took advantage, and heaped disadvantage and burden on others, and it was not even ashamed of itself, not even aware." Mary contemplates the cessation of conflict with Jay over his father after his passing. This thought fills her with guilt, leading her to a fervent prayer for forgiveness and unity with Jay in faith. The prospect of raising their children as Catholics increases her fear of religious disparity with Jay, prompting her to place her faith in God.

chapter 5

In the early hours, Mary informs her children that Jay has departed to visit ailing Grampa Follet and he should return by dusk. She delicately describes death to them, likening it to a deep slumber that only ends in heaven. When Rufus questions if their deceased pets reside in heaven, his mother affirms they likely do. Rufus then queries why God allows death, to which Mary responds that it is a part of an incomprehensible grand plan and they must have faith in God's wisdom nonetheless. Explaining that God desires for people "to find him", Catherine, Rufus's little sister, coins it as a game of "hide-and-go-seek". Rufus, upset by this analogy, lashes out at Catherine, leading her to tears. Mary insists Rufus apologizes before sending him off to school.

chapter 6

Jay reaches his family's farm, annoyed that he was misled about his father's condition by Ralph. Ralph, it seems, had amplified the severity of their father's health issues. The narrative then switches to Ralph, who had a restless night filled with anxiety. He took several drinks from a whiskey bottle located in his office before heading to his parents' place. Attempting to console his mother, he only succeeded in pushing her further away with his drunkenness thinly veiled as concern. Throughout the night, Ralph repeatedly drank from his whiskey bottle, eventually running out. In frustration, he banged his head against the house, causing it to bleed. On entering the house, his wife and mother downplayed his evident state of distress. This sense of dismissal made Ralph feel small and insignificant. Ralph harbors a low self-esteem, constantly seeking approval from others. He's aware that his mother pities him and lacks respect for him. He notices his wife's fear of him and is filled with self-loathing. He recognizes his faults and feels less of a man, comparing himself to an infant: "I'm not a man. I'm a baby. Ralph is the baby. Ralph is the baby."

chapter 7

Hannah Lynch, Rufus's relative, reaches out to Mary while Jay is absent, suggesting a shopping trip for Rufus. Mary believes Rufus would be eager to join, but Hannah insists on hearing it from Rufus himself and sets a 3pm deadline for the decision. During their call, Hannah and Mary express relief over the lack of word about Jay, interpreting it as a sign that nothing severe has occurred. Andrew, Mary's sibling, questions if there's any news about Jay's father, and upon learning there isn't, resumes his painting. Rufus rushes to Aunt Hannah at his grandma's place, confirming his desire to accompany her for shopping. Despite sensing that Mary coached him, Hannah perceives his genuine interest. On their way out, they encounter Rufus's grandmother who affirms their plan with a pat on Rufus's cheek. Shopping with Hannah appeals to Rufus due to her efficient and graceful approach, eschewing the "flurry and dawdling" he sees in others. He is mostly oblivious to Hannah's chatter, focusing instead on the goods, and appreciates her consideration towards him. Hannah picks up gifts for Mary and Andrew as well as a few things for herself. Eventually, she offers to buy Rufus a cap, sparking his excitement. Rufus's enthusiasm initially confuses Hannah, but his fervent response clears the misunderstanding. She recognizes his internal struggle between his desire for the cap and his awareness of Mary's disapproval. Hannah comforts Rufus, believing Mary would be okay with it if he truly wanted it. Guided by Hannah, Rufus overcomes his hesitation and picks a flamboyantly colorful cap, a "thunderous fleecy check in jade green, canary yellow, black and white, which stuck out inches to either side above his ears and had a great scoop of visor beneath which his face was all but lost."

part 1 end

This part of the story unfurls the recollection of Rufus as a toddler, enveloped in the fear of darkness and shadows in his room. Aided by the comforting presence of his father, Jay, who casts light in the room's dark corners and lulls him with melodies, Rufus is pacified. Jay finds solace in being a father, a sentiment that is amplified when greeted by his wife, Mary, who informs him of Andrew's departure and gently reminds him that he has spent a considerable amount of time with Rufus. Mary is pregnant with baby Catherine, and the two parents frequently sang "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" for their son, with Jay providing rhythmic variations and Mary offering a straightforward rendition. As the memory proceeds, Rufus observes his mother's expanding waistline with wonderment, oblivious to the joyous anticipation of their acquaintances. His mother hints at an imminent surprise but refrains from revealing concrete details, leaving Rufus brimming with curiosity. The arrival of Victoria, a large black woman with a distinct smell, marks a new chapter in Rufus's life. Despite his fondness for her scent, Mary advises him to avoid commenting on it to Victoria, emphasizing the importance of respecting personal boundaries. Rufus promises to comply. Eventually, Victoria escorts Rufus to his grandmother's house, during which he innocently questions her dark complexion. His curiosity seems to unsettle Victoria, who answers him with a simple "God created me this way." Rufus's further probing about her skin color makes her uncomfortable, but she kindly insists that it's inappropriate to question black people about their skin color. To apologize for his unintentional rudeness, Rufus assures Victoria he did not mean to upset her. Acknowledging his innocence, Victoria reassures Rufus, then guides him to his awaiting grandmother's house, ending their journey on a comforting note.

chapter 8

Late in the evening, Mary gets a disturbing phone call informing her of Jay's severe accident near Powell Station. Fearing the worst, she summons her brother Andrew and family friend, Walter Starr, to investigate. She also arranges for Aunt Hannah's company while they wait for more news. In the meantime, she nervously prepares the house, boiling water for tea and readying the bed, while pondering over the vague details shared by the caller. She prays, but can only manage a simple "Thy will be done." When Andrew, Walter, and Aunt Hannah reach Mary’s place, the men promise to update her soon and leave. Mary and Hannah share a pot of tea as Mary muses about possible nursing options. Guilt sets in as she regrets not asking more about Jay's condition during the call. Mary's father calls to ask for updates, but she has no news to share. Aunt Hannah tries to reassure Mary about her father's fondness for Jay, despite his initial mixed reactions to their courtship. Mary reflects on her father’s fluctuating opinions, acknowledging there was truth in his concerns. She confides in Hannah about the ups and downs in her marriage with Jay, and the recent harmony they had found. As they continue to wait, Hannah empathizes with Mary’s situation, recalling her own past ordeal. They kneel to pray together. Mary expresses her fear that Jay might have already died, and Andrew is waiting to break the news in person. As they exchange fears and hopes, they hear footsteps approaching the house.

chapter 9

Joel and Catherine, Mary's parents, anxiously await updates about Jay at their residence. Joel distracts himself with The New Republic, while Catherine is engrossed in her embroidery. Catherine suggests going to support Mary, but Joel feels it may be unnecessary, as the situation is still unclear. He reveals to Catherine that Mary, whom he affectionately calls "Poll", has already declined their offer to join her. Catherine expresses her concern about Jay's driving skills; Joel privately agrees but verbally defends that everyone's driving can be unpredictable at times. Joel, absorbed in his reading, realizes he doesn't feel immense sorrow towards Jay; instead, he feels a profound, all-encompassing melancholy. He is disturbed by the thought of his daughter's vivacity and intellect being wasted on mundane housework and religious zeal. On the other hand, Catherine contemplates the heavy toll Mary and her children would bear if Jay's death were confirmed. An affectionate handhold between Joel and Catherine becomes a moment of mutual admiration and love.

chapter 10

The story refocuses on Mary's home, where Andrew arrives. Mary intuitively asks him, "He's dead, isn't he," and Andrew confirms her fears, revealing that Jay died instantly. Sharing a moment of grief, they share a drink while waiting for Mary's parents to arrive. Walter, Joel, and Catherine soon join them, and Mary expresses her gratitude to Walter before he departs. Joel then requests a private conversation with Mary. They head to Jay and Mary's bedroom where Joel offers comfort and advice to the grief-stricken Mary. He expresses the harsh reality that "just hell" lies ahead and she needs to soldier on, especially for the children. Joel reminds her that everyone faces adversity, and she must steel herself for the impending hardship. He acknowledges her faith will be a source of strength but cautions her against using it as a shield. Joel also assures her he will aid with any financial troubles. Before rejoining the rest, Joel affirms his belief in Mary's resilience.

chapter 11

Mary and Joel join their family in the living room. Mary positions herself beside her mother, Catherine, with Andrew strategically seated on the side with Catherine's better hearing. Andrew shares that no other individuals were harmed in the accident, and reveals that the discoverer of Jay's body was the one who contacted Mary. He recounts the man's tale of hearing a fast approaching car followed by a horrendous sound. Upon investigating, the man had found the vehicle overturned and Jay lifeless on the ground. He managed to stop a passing car to seek medical assistance. The medic concluded that Jay's fatal injury occurred when his chin forcefully hit the steering wheel, causing an immediate fatal concussion. The group discovered a loosened cotter pin in the car's steering mechanism and a rock with tire marks nearby. They deduced that the pin's dislodging caused Jay to lose control upon hitting the rock, thus causing his fatal collision and subsequent ejection from the car. The doctor emphasized the unfortunate precision of the impact, stating that a slight deviation would have been non-lethal. Joel cuts Andrew off at this point, resulting in Mary bursting into tears. In the midst of her grief, Mary pleads for God's forgiveness, to which Hannah reassures her that her emotional state is expected and required no divine pardon. Mary then requests a bit more whiskey. Joel questions her sobriety, but she dismisses his concerns. Catherine attempts to steer the conversation away from Mary's alcohol consumption. This triggers a bout of collective laughter, as everyone finds Catherine's suggestion comically insinuating that Mary is desperate for a drink. After a short period of laughter, they regain composure and apologize to Catherine for their reaction to her comment. Joel quotes a somber line: "As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; they kill us for their sport." Mary disagrees, leading Joel to tell her to disregard his statement. Andrew then voices his gratitude that Jay had died rather than become a lifelong paralytic, given his active nature. The group consents, and Andrew adds that Jay's body was unscathed and he possessed an exceptional physique. Mary suggests "In his strength" as a fitting epitaph and asks Andrew to notify Jay's relatives about his death.

chapter 12

Ralph receives a call from Andrew informing him about Jay's death, causing Ralph to feel guilt as he had initiated Jay's fatal journey. As an undertaker, Ralph offers to handle Jay's body but Andrew reassures him everything's under control. Mary reflects on her last moments with Jay, remembering how he warmed her milk to help her sleep and asked about her birthday wishes. She had been upset with him for not calling earlier and suspected he was drunk. However, she quickly dismisses the thought, certain that Andrew wouldn't conceal such a thing from her. Suddenly, Hannah calls for silence, claiming to sense something. Mary and Andrew also feel it and Catherine queries about someone entering the house, despite her near deafness without her ear trumpet. Mary confidently states, "It's Jay," and proceeds to communicate with him. Once the presence disappears, they discuss the incident. Joel, however, admits to not experiencing anything and would've dismissed it as hallucination if he had. When the presence reappears, Mary rushes upstairs to the children's room, claiming that she could feel "[Jay's] strength, of virility, of helplessness, and of pure calm." After speaking to him and praying, she makes the sign of the cross as she feels his presence fade.

chapter 13

Mary returns to the family gathering, discussing the inexplicable presence they've all felt. Joel expresses skepticism, prompting Mary to respond that faith is the key to understanding such hard-to-explain incidents and God's divine plan. Andrew admits he might put his doubt aside for the night, as he too felt an unusual presence. Mary invites Hannah to stay the night, which Hannah accepts. Although guilty for not extending the same invitation to her mother, Mary fears their loud conversation may disturb the children. After Andrew, Joel, and Catherine leave, Mary and Hannah tidy up. Mary is amazed at how much whiskey she's consumed, so Hannah gives her aspirin to prevent a morning headache. On their journey home, Andrew and his parents find themselves reflecting on the song "O Little Town of Bethlehem." Meanwhile, Mary and Hannah ready themselves for bed, with Mary battling a sense of despair despite her prayers, mourning Jay's loss.

section in italics 1

Rufus enjoys observing his peers passing his house on their school journey. Their school attire, colorful books, and packed meals pique his curiosity. He greets them, and some older boys respond warmly, sometimes even tousling his hair. Younger boys often approach Rufus, repeatedly asking his name. Rufus eventually works out that they're mocking him, not forgetting his name. One of the boys insists he doesn't know Rufus's name until Rufus admits it, at which point they burst into laughter and chant derogatory rhymes, using racial slurs. Rufus questions his mother, Mary, whether his name is associated with a racial slur, leading to the kids' mockery. Mary assures him that Rufus is a respectable family name, inherited from his Grandpa Lynch, and advises him to ignore the boys. Despite her advice, the boys continue to taunt him, even using his grandfather's name to ridicule him. Puzzled by their cruelty, Rufus decides not to disclose his name again, despite his desire for acceptance. At another point, the boys coax Rufus into performing a song and dance his mother had taught him. Their seeming sincerity fools Rufus into complying. The younger boys start hooting and laughing, while the older ones scold them, making Rufus feel they support him. However, he later overhears the older boys also deriding him.

section in italics 2

The family, including Rufus, Jay, Mary, Catherine, Grampa Follet, Ralph and others, decide to visit Rufus's Great-Great-Grandmother Follet, whom they haven't seen in more than ten years. As they journey to her house, they reminisce about her longevity, with her being born in the early 19th century, around the same time as Abraham Lincoln. Once they reach the aged log cabin, they are greeted by Great-Aunt Sadie, who lives with the elderly woman. She reveals that Rufus is the old lady's first fifth-generation grandchild, a fact that brings her great joy despite her inability to express it verbally. When Rufus meets her, he introduces himself, and although her response is merely a croaking noise, she grips his shoulders and smiles widely. A different family memory arises; Uncle Ted and Aunt Kate, who are distant relatives but close friends, visit from Michigan. They gift Rufus a book and go sightseeing in the "Smokies." An incident at supper where Ted tricks Rufus into believing he can make cheese move by whistling causes a disagreement between Ted and Mary, who dislikes the deception. Despite Ted's insistence that it was a harmless joke, Mary remains upset, a disagreement that Jay fails to mediate.

chapter 14

Rufus begins his day eager to show his dad his new hat. He hollers for his father as he rushes to his parents' room, where he finds only his mother, looking "like cracked china." His mother instructs him to rouse his sister, Catherine. Once Mary gathers her children, she solemnly informs them that their father won't be returning home as God has called him. When Rufus inquires whether his father has passed, his mother confirms it, hugging them tightly. Rufus struggles to comprehend the concept of death. Mary attempts to reassure her children, explaining that their confusion is normal and invites them to ask any questions. She then instructs Rufus to assist Catherine in getting dressed before they head for breakfast.

chapter 15

This part of the story is seen through young Catherine's eyes during breakfast. The solemn atmosphere causes Catherine unease and melancholy. She consumes her food, not out of hunger, but from the knowledge she must behave herself due to her father’s absence. She finds Aunt Hannah's breakfast noises distressing and wishes for her father to return, brighten the mood and make everything okay. Her mind keeps circling back to why her father would choose heaven over coming back home. Once Hannah completes her meal, she clarifies to the children the circumstances of Jay's death. Jay was driving when he lost control of the car, hit his chin and was ejected from the vehicle before it ascended an embankment and landed next to him. She encourages them to ask questions to make sure they understand because it’s a complex scenario for children. Rufus inquires about the meaning of "embackmut," "instintly," and "concussion," which Hannah explains. When Catherine asks when their father will return, Hannah repeats that Jay can’t come home, acknowledging it's a difficult concept to grasp. Rufus asks if the concussion killed his father, to which Hannah affirms. Rufus then concludes, if the concussion caused his father's death, then it wasn't God who took Jay away.

chapter 16

Rufus struggles with the reality of his father's death, which occurred while he was sleeping. After getting dressed, he contemplates staying home from school as advised by Aunt Hannah. Initially, he's glad to avoid school, but he also realizes he'll be treated differently due to his loss. Choosing to go outside, Rufus practices saying "my daddy's dead" and shares this with a passing man. The man, taken aback, advises Rufus to return home. Despite briefly going back inside, Rufus soon ventures out again and encounters some schoolmates. When Rufus shares his loss with the boys, they react with disbelief and curiosity. The details of the fatal accident, which involved the father's automobile overturning, are discussed. One boy insinuates the father was drunk, which Rufus vehemently denies. He shares the version of the accident given by Aunt Hannah, but his explanation is met with skepticism. The school bell signals the end of the encounter, and Rufus returns home. Aunt Hannah scolds him for leaving and assigns him to assist his sister, Catherine, with her coloring book. After a disagreement over the color of a cow, Rufus is reprimanded and told to read a book alone. In the sitting room, he apologizes to the empty room, feeling remorse for flaunting his father's death.

chapter 17

Aunt Hannah prepares Rufus and Catherine for the day, bathing them and dressing them in their best clothes. A call comes from Father Jackson, who gets directions to the house from Hannah. The children are then escorted into their mother Mary's room, where she apologizes for her recent absence and prepares them for the upcoming view of their deceased father. She tries to help them understand he won't return, which Catherine seems to grasp. Rufus then inquires if they are now orphans, to which Mary clarifies they aren't since they still have a parent left. Rufus, however, convinces himself that he and Catherine together form an orphan. Soon, Father Jackson arrives and Hannah welcomes him, requesting the children to guide him to the sitting room. The priest, who appears stern, reprimands them for staring and lectures them on manners using complex vocabulary. Hannah then reappears and escorts Father Jackson upstairs. Curiously, Rufus and Catherine sneak upstairs to eavesdrop but only catch the sound of the conversation, not the words spoken. Father Jackson's voice dominates the conversation, while Hannah and Mary's voices stay soft. The situation seems sinister to the children and they fantasize about Father Jackson's death. The priest's tone then shifts to a rhythmic, pleasant one as he begins praying, entrancing the children until the doorbell rings. Alarmed, they rush downstairs to avoid being caught eavesdropping and hide in the sitting room. The visitor is Walter Starr, who comforts the children and waits with them for Mary. While waiting, he shares about his gramophone and invites the children to visit. He praises their father, calling him hardworking, brave, kind, and generous. The children are deeply moved by his words. Suddenly, they hear a door opening upstairs.

chapter 18

The story now focuses on Mary. She feels like she's coping with Jay's demise and becoming more mature all of a sudden. As she attempts to leave, her legs give out and she collapses. She's caught by Hannah before hitting the ground, while Father Jackson recites a prayer. Eventually, Mary manages to regain her composure and stand. She relies on Father Jackson for support as she exits the room.

chapter 19

Mary, along with her children, pay their respects to the body of the deceased, placed near the fireplace in her parents' house. Rufus observes his father's visage closely. The trio kneel in prayer before the casket, subsequently joined by Father Jackson who offers his prayers and comforting touch. Hannah guides the children away, leaving Mary alone for a prayer session with Father Jackson, much to the chagrin of Andrew and Joel who are outside in the corridor. Subsequently, Rufus and Catherine are taken to bid their final goodbyes to their father in a separate room. Walter Starr then comes to escort them home. Diverging from the direct route, Walter allows the children to witness the funeral procession that unfolds on the street, believing they would appreciate it in hindsight. They observe their extended family departing the house and boarding different vehicles, as well as a streetcar, for the journey to the cemetery. Following this, the children are finally taken to Walter's residence.

chapter 20

Catherine is observing passersby from her porch, when she suddenly asks, "Where's Daddy?" Feeling a need for company, she goes searching, only to find her mother and aunt are preoccupied with prayer. She decides to hide away under the bed in the room down the corridor. Upon discovering her missing, her mother and aunt are stricken with panic, calling her incessantly. When they eventually locate her, she bursts into tears and seeks solace in her mother's embrace. Andrew and Rufus embark on a walk that begins in quietness, with Rufus noticing that Andrew seems irritated. Andrew confides in Rufus that the afternoon's burial of the coffin, marked by a butterfly landing on it and remaining until it was fully underground, stirred his faith in God. This butterfly then ascended into the sky, out of sight. This revelation brings Rufus some comfort, as he missed attending the funeral. However, Andrew's anger resurfaces when he discloses that Father Jackson did not conduct the full burial service for Jay, due to his lack of baptism. Rufus struggles to reconcile Andrew's disdain for religion with his affection for Mary and Aunt Hannah. He wishes to raise the question, but finds himself unable to. They return home, enshrouded in silence.

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