Tom and Dr. Lowenstein go out for drinks when she is through with Monique. Tom tells Dr. Lowenstein about a girl in his English class, Sue Ellen, who was beaten by her father. Tom went to their house and beat Sue Ellen’s father. Dr. Lowenstein says there must have been another way to solve the problem. Tom tells her that Sue Ellen is now dead. She married a man just like her father; he killed her in a domestic squabble. Tom wanted to tell Monique that story because he always figured that Sue Ellen was unlucky because she was ugly. He wonders how bad Monique’s problem could be since she is so beautiful. He wonders why some people are unlucky and ugly.
Tom tells Dr. Lowenstein that he wanted her to find him attractive, only because he has not felt attractive in so long. She says she has not felt attractive in a long time either. Tom is stunned because she is so beautiful. Tom tells Dr, Lowenstein that she is not attractive, she is beautiful. Dr. Lowenstein tells him that her husband does not find her attractive.
Tom asks if he may see Savannah the next day. Dr. Lowenstein informs him that Savannah does not want to see Tom. He is very hurt. Tom thinks about how Tolitha is now dying in a nursing home and how he does not have the courage to take care of her on his own. He thinks it is very American to let your loved ones die in a nursing home, alone.
Tom remembers another story. When Papa John died, Tolitha sold their home, took all the money she and Papa John had and sailed around the world for three years. During her travels she wrote letters to Amos Wingo (Henry’s father; her first husband). When she ran out of money and was through traveling, she came home to Amos. She was once again his wife. Amos gladly took her back; he never stopped loving her. He never loved another woman. Amos was very religious and said that God often appeared to him. He was a Bible salesman and a barber. Tom was surprised how two gentle souls like Tolitha and Amos could create such a violent man--his father.
The theme of this chapter is the unpredictability of circumstances. Tom’s first impressions of Dr. Lowenstein and Monique are that since they are so beautiful, their lives must be simple and carefree. Tom is surprised to learn how unhappy each woman is. Dr. Lowenstein points out that Monique’s pain (and, thus, Dr. Lowenstein’s pain) is as real to her as Sue Ellen’s pain was. Pain and unhappiness are relative terms. Similarly, it was very unlikely that Tolitha and Amos, who are sweet and calm, could produce such a violent man as Henry Wingo.
Tom’s de-humanization as an American male is seen again in this chapter. He lets Tolitha stay in a nursing home, even though she begs to come home. He cannot bear to clean up after her. It is easier to let someone else do it for him.