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Sounder by W. H. Armstrong - Free Online Book Summary

 

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FREE ONLINE NOTES FOR SOUNDER BY W. H. ARMSTRONG


CHAPTER 6


Summary

Throughout the spring and summer and into the fall harvest, the boy works very diligently in the field. Still there is no word from Father, and the boy feels more lost and lonely than ever. He tells his mother that he wants to go and search for his dad. Mother is hesitant to let her “little boy” go out into the world alone; but the boy, fuelled by the Bible stories of Abraham, Jacob and Joseph, feels confident about travelling on his own.

The state has many prisons to hold criminals, and there are many quarries where they are sent to work. In addition, a prisoner is often shuttled from one place to another, making it very difficult to locate a person. During his first journey, the boy has no luck in finding Father; but he promises to search again when there is adequate time.

Each year in autumn, when the work in the field is over for the year, the boy visits road camps and quarries. But, he is unable to find his father or any concrete information about him. The searches, however, benefit the boy in certain ways. He picks up old newspapers and magazines from trash barrels and practices his reading and expands his vocabulary. He also learns about a different world outside of the area where the tiny family cabin is located.



Notes

Through the simple words and subtle actions of the main characters, the author continues to develop the dreariness and loneliness of the boy and his family. Although they have refused to give up on Father, there has still been no word of his whereabouts. The boy often feels afraid and lonely as he does a man’s work in the field. Additionally, Mother has been humming her lonely tune more often and for longer periods. Although the boy has matured and is able to support the family, he often thinks of undertaking a journey to search for his father. The reader is made to feel proud of the boy’s courage and sorry for his premature loss of childhood.

Throughout the novel the motif of “life as journey” is emphasized. Mother repeatedly sings her song about travelling through the lonesome valley of life. Father has been arrested and made to travel to the jail and then to the quarries. Sounder journeyed away from the farm and into the woods in order to heal himself and journey back home. The boy has journeyed into town to visit his father in jail. Now he wants to visit road-camps, prisons, and quarries to look for his father.

The mention of Biblical travelers, such as Moses and Jacob, further strengthens the “life as a journey” image. The boy seems to particularly identify himself with Joseph, and indeed there are some parallels between them. Joseph had been abandoned by his brothers when he was a young man and was forced to provide for himself; the boy has also had to learn to care for himself and his family at an early age. Like Joseph, he often feels isolated and abandoned. Additionally, both Joseph and the boy are dreamers.

Although the boy’s journey to find his father never produces results, they help him in many ways. First, he learns about the world outside of his small family cabin; he even picks useful information about living in a town, which will benefit later in his life. He is able to find abandoned newspapers and magazines, which he eagerly reads; therefore, he able to improve his reading and expand his vocabulary. Most importantly, the journeys help him to mature and have faith in himself.

The boy is often troubled by the stories he reads in the newspaper. Unlike the tales in the Bible, these stories often have unhappy endings. The boy begins to understand that goodness is not always rewarded with happiness; in fact, often it seems that good people suffer, while evil people flourish. In spite of this hard revelation about life, the boy continues to have a deep and abiding faith in Goad. In spite of the loneliness and suffering he endures, he knows that the Lord is with him, just as he was with King David.


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