After Aaron left for college, Abra got to know his family. She grew attached to Lee and Adam but kept her distance from Cal. Aaron was lonely at Stanford and wrote long love letters to Abra. She would sometimes share parts of them with Lee. She also told Lee that Aaron suffered from not having a mother and had been deeply wounded by the shame of Adam's business failure. Abra also told Lee that Aaron did not really know her; instead, he had created a perfect vision of her. She then asked Lee if it was true that Aaron's mother was a madam. Although he resisted telling her the truth, he finally admitted that she was.
Cal came in and announced his good news. He had made enough money to repay Lee with interest. He had also made another fifteen thousand dollars to present to his father on Thanksgiving. Lee asked him if Adam really wanted money. Cal questioned, "Why shouldn't he?" Lee hoped Cal was right.
When Cal saw Abra one day, she was upset. She said that Aaron only thought of himself. He had told her he wanted to pastor a high church and not get married. She had tried to fight with him about it, but he would not fight back. Cal advised Abra to be patient, suggesting that Aaron might just be going through a phase. Abra then asked Cal if it was true that he often visited prostitutes.
He said it was true. She then admitted that she was also not good. Cal told her she was crazy and that Aaron would "knock that out of [her]."
In this chapter, Lee again proves his wisdom. He understands that Aaron is struggling over his father's failure and the rumors that he has heard about his mother. He also knows that Aaron will never forgive his father for lying to him about his mother for all these years. When Abra questions Lee about Aaron's mother, he is at firs hesitant to tell her the truth about Kate; but then he admits that the twins' mother is a madam. He also worries that Adam will not be pleased about Cal's gift of money.
For the first time in the novel, Abra confides in Cal, whom she has usually avoided. She tells him that she is upset with Aaron because he no longer wants to get married; instead, he wants to remain celibate and become the pastor of a very conservative church. It is like he is trying to be totally pure in reaction to his fear that his mother is totally evil. Abra adds a note of suspense to the novel when she questions Cal about his visits to prostitutes and hints that she is not good herself.
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