Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
Chapter 4 verbs, all of them tiring Summary Ruby moves into the old hunting cabin on Ada’s farm. She and Ada take stock of the farm and Ruby seems to have plans for each bit of the property. There are parts of the farm that are still in good working order. Ruby explains how they could trade cider and tobacco for items they could not produce themselves. She trades Ada’s piano for pigs, sheep, corn grits, ham and bacon.
Watching the piano being carried away, Ada reminisces about the Christmas party Monroe had where, as the result of too much champagne, she ended up briefly in Inman’s lap. The memory makes Ada think there might still be some champagne in the basement but she finds coffee beans instead. Ruby is able to barter these for an impressive amount of food and supplies, including the most valuable commodity, salt.
Ruby’s routine is to wake before dawn, complete some farm chores, then make breakfast. She expects that Ada be there for breakfast. It is clear by Ruby’s actions and expressions that she will not be treated like a servant.
Ada learns to work constantly at farm chores. She and Ruby rest only in the evening. They sit on the porch and Ada reads aloud from Homer’s Odyssey. Then Ruby tells stories of her life as a poor, neglected, motherless child.
Through Ruby we get a picture of the extreme independence and earthy spirituality necessary for survival in the mountains. She is master of the old ways and takes charge of the daily routine on Ada’s farm. Until Ruby’s arrival, Ada had not a hint of the processes behind food, clothing and shelter. Ada feels Ruby’s plans use too many verbs, all of them tiring, yet she knows Ruby will not let her fail.
There is another reference to 19 th century literature here, Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit, which Ada retells over coffee to Ruby who was heretofore a stranger to books. There is also the reference to Homer, hinting that this story parallels that epic odyssey.