Sounder by W. H. Armstrong - Free Online Book Summary
Again in this chapter the kindness, humanity, and morality of the blacks is a stark contrast to the cruelty of the whites. The father has told his son not to return to the jail, for he wants to protect him and spare him from the pain inflicted by the whites. Now as the boy walks towards home, he wants to protect his mother and spare her from pain; he decides he will not tell her about how he was treated by the white employees at the jail or what has happened to her cake. The boy is beginning to truly mature as he learns the full meaning of suffering.
Mother again shows that she is just as kind and thoughtful as Father. She patiently waits up for her son, eager to hear about her husband. She carefully listens to the boy’s every word, not interrupting with lots of questions. When the boy is through with his tale, she silently and pensively ponders what he has said. She then returns to her work, humming the same song about the lonesome valley; this often repeated melody reinforces one of the central themes of the novel: a person must find personal courage in the face of hardships in order to endure the lonesome valley of life. Mother seems to gain courage by humming this melancholy tune alone and to herself.
Sounder’s return is structurally and thematically a perfectly timed and important event in the novel. It occurs at a low point for the boy, after he has just again suffered the inhumanity inflicted by the white man. The dog’s return is a hopeful sign that the master will also return; but Sounder’s condition foreshadows the future condition in which Father will return. Both dog and master now have broken spirits and broken bodies; both are mere ghosts of the being that they were previously.
Thematically, Sounder’s return underlines the courage and “dogged determination” that is needed to endure the lonely valley of life. Man’s inhumanity in the form of a bullet has caused the dog great pain; by himself, Sounder went into the woods of life to literally lick his wounds and heal himself. Although he has managed to live in spite of the odds and return home in faithfulness, he is not the same mighty hound seen in the beginning of the novel. His strong voice, the sounder of human values, has been replaced with a pitiful whine; but he can still be heard. Life is cruel and can reduce even the strongest creatures; but the truly mighty will survive.
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TheBestNotes.com Staff. "TheBestNotes on Sounder".
. 09 May 2017