This chapter switches back to Tom and Bernard. They are meeting every morning at eight and working hard on the fundamentals of football.
At one of Tom’s meetings with Susan she mentions that he is writing letters to Savannah. Susan does not think this is a good idea and Tom is upset. Tom offers to cook dinner for her and Bernard one night. Susan suggests the next night, since Herbert will be out of town. Then Susan asks Tom some football questions because she wants to be able to discuss football with Bernard.
This chapter furthers the development of the relationship between Susan and Tom. We see that Susan not only has difficulties with her husband, but also her son. This is ironic for someone whose profession is psychiatry.
Tom is obviously having a great impact on Bernard.
This chapter examines the character Henry Wingo. In the beginning Tom tells us that his life did not really begin until he forgave his father. Tom remembers how Henry had many schemes to make money, and how all failed. Savannah called it the “Sadim Touch.” His profession, shrimping, was always a “temporary” job to him. Henry’s boat, the Miss Lila, was equipped to catch a lot of shrimp; Henry was good at shrimping.
One of Henry’s great ideas was to buy a movie camera, even though the family was barely able to make ends meet. Another year Henry bought Christmas cards with black people on the front to sell door-to –door.
His greatest endeavor was the purchase of a gas station—right across the street from the most popular gas station in town. To buy it, he used the children’s college funds. One night, the family went to the circus. During the show a tiger, named Caesar, got out of control and ate a seal in front of the entire crowd. The show ended in pandemonium. Henry bought the tiger from the circus. He thought this was an ingenious idea since the mascot for his gas station was a tiger.
Henry brought Caesar to his station as a gimmick to get people to buy gas. His ploy worked for six months and then Henry had to give up the station. A silent financial partner joined Ferguson’s gas station (the competitor across the street) and made it impossible for Henry to compete. Henry learned later that Reese Newbury was the silent financial partner—Reese was determined to get Henry’s island.
Tom often wondered about how his parents had sustained their marriage. He recalled the one story his father always told him: the story of how his parents met. Henry was on leave in Atlanta. He spotted Lila coming out of the department store in which she worked. He tried to talk to her, but she ignored him. He made up humorous stories to get her attention; she continued to ignore him. She got on a bus and he chased it. Finally, she yelled her phone number out the window.
When the gas station closed, Henry brought Caesar home to live with them. The only person brave enough to interact with Caesar was Luke. Luke and Caesar loved one another.
Characterization is an essential element of plot development. Two basic types of characters are flat characters and round characters. Flat characters are one-dimensional and often unbelievable. Round characters have many sides to their personalities and more closely resemble real people. This chapter focuses on the character Henry Wingo.
Thus far, we have experienced a man that has been easy to hate: he is simple, cruel, and angry. This chapter allows the reader to experience a different Henry Wingo, a multi-dimensional Henry Wingo. Henry is not simply evil—if he were he would be a flat character. In this chapter, Conroy shows us that Henry can be sweet, clever, and even gentle. Ironically, Henry is a dreamer. We may not have suspected he was capable of dreams since he appeared to be a simple man who lives to control those around him. However, we find in this chapter, Henry is motivated by his love for Lila—he wants to please her with money. Even though he is an excellent shrimper, he seeks other means of glory through which he can gain Lila’s respect.
Henry has appeared disinterested in his children. In this chapter he takes them to a carnival. He also buys a video camera. His motive for buying the camera is to make money; however, he will spend hours capturing the special moments of his family’s life.