Chapters 19-20 Summary
Love makes Grandpa change his clothes more often and dress more nicely. She wants him to get a new suit, and when he says he can’t afford it, she offers to make him one. When Grandpa goes to the store to surprise people with his clean shave and haircut, Love talks to Will. They become friends.
As Miss Love has Will help her clean the house, she reveals that she is sleeping in her own room. It confuses Will when he understands that Love is not sleeping with Grandpa. Will doesn’t want Grandpa to get a son with Miss Love because he is Grandpa’s boy, but why did she marry him? Will finally comes out and asks her why she did.
Love is dying to talk to someone because she has no friends in town. She wanted to belong to a family, she says, and hopes that eventually Mary Willis and Loma will accept her. She has no family of her own. Mr. Blakeslee asked her to marry as his housekeeper, a marriage in name only. He would deed the house to her and the furniture and give her two hundred dollars if she agreed. She said she would have to think about it, but he was in a hurry. He said he would ask another woman if she didn’t accept.
Love confesses to Will that she married for security since she stopped praying for a husband two years ago. Will asks why she didn’t marry Son Black who has been courting her? She says she always wanted a King Arthur for a husband, and Son Black is ruled by his mama. When she couldn’t marry for love, she decided to marry for a home, and Mr. Blakeslee is the only honest man she has ever known. Will feels flattered she has poured out her heart to him. Just then he sees a stranger pass by with a saddle over his arm. He is heading for Grandpa’s house.
Chapters 19-20 Commentary
Whenever anyone brings up that Mattie Lou has only been dead for three weeks and that he should wait to remarry, Grandpa always replies, “She’s dead as she’ll ever be” (p. 132). This is Grandpa’s blunt way, but he also lives in the present moment rather than in the past.
Even at his age, he is open to change. He tells Love she can keep being a Methodist because he only went to the Baptist church to please Mattie Lou. Now that she’s dead, he is not going to go to church anymore. He doesn’t want to hear about hellfire; he wants to hear “bout the lovin’” (p. 132). He warns Love that they won’t interfere with each other, and she shouldn’t try to reform him. He had to live with other people’s rules all his life, and now he will live for himself.
Far from the original picture we got of Grandpa as the inconsolable widower, he sounds like he is ready for independence. The fact that he and Love are sleeping in separate bedrooms makes it more plausible that Grandpa just wanted a housekeeper. Yet Grandpa treats Love with more respect and tolerance than he would a mere housekeeper. He actually does what she says. The narrative keeps up the suspense about the arrangement between Love and Grandpa. The more that is revealed, the more questions are raised.