Chapter 5-6 Summary
Will contrasts the independent Miss Love and Rucker Blakeslee to his Granny, the first wife, who was plain and obliging. Mattie Lou Toy never understood why Rucker Blakeslee married her, because he was so handsome, and she had never had a beau. Everyone loved Granny, however, because she had a refined soul. She never complained about Grandpa’s stinginess and having to use a privy instead of a bathroom. Grandpa loved Mattie Lou, but he took her for granted and did throw it in her face that she never had a boy.
When Granny has a stroke, everyone grieves, including Queenie, the black cook at Mary Willis’s, who sings a Nigerian grief song. Everyone prays that Granny will make it. While Granny is ill, the townsfolk show up with food and cheer. Grandpa won’t leave her bed and watches her anxiously, as tears roll down his face. Will hears Granny and Grandpa speak nostalgically of their courting days. Grandpa tells her he doesn’t want to live without her and then prays movingly by her bedside. Mattie Lou doesn’t die that day. Everyone thinks she will pull through.
Chapter 5-6 Commentary
These chapters go back to the moment of Granny’s death. Will tries to make the reader understand how much his Granny was loved and that Grandpa loved his first wife. Will nevertheless becomes the main advocate for Grandpa’s marrying his second wife, Love. He does not believe as the other townspeople do, that Grandpa had negative motives for marrying so soon. He thinks Grandpa couldn’t stand being alone, after his beloved wife died. This is not speculation on his part, for Will was there at the deathbed as an eye-witness to Grandpa’s grief.
Grandpa’s unusual religious faith is introduced in this chapter as he prays by Granny’s bed. Grandpa speaks aloud to God, as if “God was an old crony of his instead of somebody who could strike you down dead” (p. 35). Grandpa hopes God will not kill Granny to punish him for his sin. He prays for the strength not to ask for Granny’s life because God has his own ways, and death is something we have to accept. He asks forgiveness for not doing right by his wife, and asks God to help Granny stand her suffering. Will wonders what “sin” Grandpa is talking about. This is not revealed until much later in the book. When Granny seems to recover, Grandpa is overjoyed.