Tom remembers when the Amberjack came to Colleton, in search of the white porpoise. The ship was from Florida and was intent on taking Snow back with it. The citizens of Colleton were not pleased.
The battle between the Amberjack and the townspeople truly began when the crew of the ship tried to catch Snow in full view of the townspeople. The shrimpers watched the path of the ship and radioed to each othertheir wives listened at home and spread the news. The whole town was waiting when the Amberjack went under a bridge—everyone threw tomatoes at the ship. The next day, the town council passed an ordinance that made Snow a citizen of Colleton County. It was a felony to remove her from the county waters.
The Amberjack was intent on capturing Snow outside of Colleton waters. Every time the Amberjack was on the trail of the porpoise, the townspeople would form a small fleet by positioning their vessels between the porpoise and the ship.
Thirty days later, after the Amberjack left Colleton, Henry Wingo radioed that he saw a log out of Colleton waters. It was a signal to the Amberjack that Snow was there. Henry had made a deal with the captain of the Amberjack and received a check for one thousand dollars.
One lazy night, Luke told Savannah and Tom he had a plan. They all got in their pickup truck and headed to Florida—they were going to save Snow. They drove ten hours to the aquarium that held Snow. After some clever talking and quick action, the siblings were able to get Snow out of the aquarium and into their truck. Luke drugged Snow so she would stay quiet until they could return her to the sea. They took her home and set her free.
This chapter once again illustrates the nature of Henry Wingo- unfeeling. However, these small tales about the adventures of the Wingo siblings (like the story about the turtle at the Newbury’s house) serve as entertaining departures from the serious subject of the novel.
These tales always show Luke as the brave and clever member of the family. He is always the leader. Luke is always willing to take a chance or break the rules for the greater cause.
When Benji Washington entered Colleton High School, the majority of the students were not happy. No one sat near Benji and there were rumors of students that had chains or a gun.
Savannah was different than the other students. She sat next to Benji in class and introduced herself. She told Tom to come sit next to him too. Tom was reluctant at first, but then sat down. Oscar Woodhead, a mean boy who was antagonizing Benji, started a fight with Savannah. When Oscar called Savannah a “nigger-loving bitch,” Tom was forced to defend her. Oscar would not apologize and they agreed to fight after school.
After school, students gathered around waiting for the fight. Luke was there, too. He gave Tom a pep talk, telling him how fast he was and that all he had to do was wait to get in a good shot. Tom won the fight. Afterwards, Tom cried. He told Luke he hated hitting Oscar and he never wanted to do anything like that again.
That day the coach ended football practice by making the guys do sprints. Tom was always the fastest and always won. This time, Benji Washington beat him every time.
This chapter illustrates the nature of the three Wingo children yet again: Savannah challenges the norm for what she believes is right, Luke is brave and a leader, Tom is cautious and adheres to the status quo. The three uphold their roles in this chapter.
Tom is able to fight Oscar because he believes it is his duty to defend his sister’s honor and he does not want to appear cowardly. However, unlike his father’s penchant for violence, Tom is devastated by what he does to Oscar. He does not ever want to do that again. Tom’s reaction to his fight with Oscar is much different than his reaction to his fight with Todd Newbury. Perhaps this is because Tom does not loathe Oscar the way he loathed Todd. He tells Luke he knew Oscar since he was a baby—which insinuates they had some sort of friendship.
Furthermore, Tom feels that it is his duty to defend Savannah, but it does not seem that he supports her position. He does not appear overly fond of Benji Washington. The reader should recall the conversation between Savannah and Tom at their grandparent’s house in which Tom used the word nigger and Savannah became angry. Tom does not hate African-Americans, necessarily—one can assume that if he did not have Savannah a sister, he would fall into the social patterns of those around him. Chances are he would have a prejudice against African-Americans that he would not understand, nor examine.
Benji Washington’s name is noteworthy, since both his first and last names are the same as founding fathers: Benjamin and Washington (Benjamin Franklin and George Washington). These men stood for freedom (although, George Washington did have slaves). Benji must fight for his own freedom and shrug the oppression of his peers.