Tom says it’s easier to tell the story about Luke to Susan as a woman who loves him rather than to Susan and a psychiatrist. The words were hard for him. Tom says he spent his summer writing love letters to his wife. He told her he understood why she had to find love outside of their house.
Tom and Susan spent the last two weeks of August at a cabin in Maine. Susan told him that she was afraid of what would happen when Sallie wanted him back. Tom asked how she knew Sallie would want him back. Savannah was surprised to see Tom. Savannah tells Tom how she thinks the South is backwards and mean. He tells her that it is soul food for him. He loves teaching. They talk about how they never speak of Luke.
Later that afternoon Sallie calls Tom. She tells him how Jack is having an affair with two other women. Jack told her she is too old for him ever to consider marrying. Tom tells her about Susan.
Tom goes to see Susan. He tells her he has to return to his family. Susan is very sad. She wishes she had had the chance to love Tom first. Susan and Tom spent one last and perfect night together. When the summer was over, Tom picked up his father at the state penitentiary. Henry says the only thing he ever did right was that he made a great jailbird. Tom and Henry went to see a Braves game and drove home slowly.
The novel ends with Savannah, Tom and his family, and Henry on a boat. Everyone is happy and seems at peace. Savannah tells Tom that she will make it. Tom tells us that that should be the end of his story, but it is not. As he comes home each night, while driving over the bridge to his island, he whispers: “Lowenstein, Lowenstein.”
This chapter provides the resolution to the plot. Savannah says how everything comes full circle; this seems to be essential to the story of the Wingos and to the story of all humans. Throughout this novel we observe some of the most destructive and disgusting actions that people are capable of. Yet, in the end, Tom has survived. While Conroy seems to comment on the dehumanization of the modern American male, perhaps he is suggestion that this is a survival mechanism.