Despite her fear of exploding tires, Taylor took a job at Jesus Is Lord Used Tires. During this time she learned that Mattie was providing sanctuary for Central American refugees, usually brought in and taken away by the priest Taylor had seen her first time at Jesus Is Lord. When a backfiring car made her jump, Taylor had to confess her fear to Mattie. Mattie demonstrated what an exploding tire would feel like by throwing a five gallon can half full of water at Taylor. She explained that 28 pounds of air from a tire would feel about like the 28 pounds of water she'd just hit Taylor with. Mattie was patient and kind in a way that made Taylor miss her mother.

Turtle stayed with Lou Ann while Taylor worked. Lou Ann spent the day reading aloud from a names-for-baby book trying to elicit some response from Turtle that would indicate what the child's real name was. She also read magazines for child-raising tips and new recipes. Taylor felt that they acted like a family in which Taylor was the father coming home from work in the evening with dinner and the kids waiting, and this annoyed her. Taylor tried to explain her feelings to Lou Ann over a beer.

After three beers and a variety of junk food, Lou Ann was crying. Then, realizing she was drunk, Lou Ann told the story of the last time she had been drunk with Angel and how he had taunted her the next morning about missing a meteor shower. She felt that it might have had something to do with her losing him. In response, Taylor explained that her own philosophy about staying with one man came from the instructions for installing toilet tank flapper balls while working at the motel. Parts are included for all installations, but no installation requires all of the parts. She meant it seriously, that no man could use everything about her, her mental capacity, her physical self, etc. Lou Ann, however found this to be so funny that she covered her mouth laughing hard and the two stayed up all night laughing and talking.


In this chapter, titled Valentine's Day, the love that is uncovered is entirely unromantic. Instead, we gain insight into the hearts of the women of this story. Mattie is revealed as one who will always take care of others and calm their fears. Taylor is at the same time independent and giving, as illustrated by the way she cares for Turtle and her deep concern for Lou Ann. Lou Ann is desperately trying to please other people, to the point that she fears being offensive, physically or emotionally, and even covers her mouth when she laughs or smiles. The common thread is that each of the three is managing life on her own terms and is learning that family need not be limited to people to whom you are related. As the pieces of the story come together here, the reader begins to feel that through the struggles these tender women will use their power of community to be tough.

Cite this page:

Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on A Long Way Gone".