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Chapter 11 the doing of it Summary Inman continues through the hill country, spending much time hiding from horsemen he presumes to be Home Guard. Following the map from the slave has led him to higher altitudes, which makes it feel like winter. He is wet and cold from the weather and his footpath is becoming faded and overgrown.
He comes upon a scrawny old woman who is all alone, setting bird traps. Inman speaks to her. She observes his wounds and ragged condition. He offers to pay her for a meal. She declines the money and takes him in for a few days.
She lives completely self-sufficiently in a sideshow type caravan that has been parked on top of the mountain for twenty-six years. She keeps many goats, the descendants of eight goats she had purchased decades before. They provide milk, meat, cheese, etc. and for other necessities she sells homemade medicines and pamphlets on health and salvation.
The old woman gives Inman salve and herbs to heal his wounds. They enjoy each other’s company. Inman tells her about Ada. They discuss the war. They also talk about what it has been like for the woman to live alone for so long with nothing but her goats and her drawings and notations about the life around her.
Before he leaves her, Inman offers to pay for the food and medicine. Again the woman declines, but advises Inman to watch himself on his travels.
Here we again see the theme of endurance and the effect of the landscape on the mood of the characters. Inman is cold, wet and possibly lost but he still keeps putting one foot in front of the other on his journey. Inman likens the gradient vista to the “tapering of pain from the neck wound as it healed.”
We also read a true and honest accounting of the meaning of the war to the mountain people. For the most part, it wasn’t their fight. Few if any of them owned slaves. It was as if they were fighting so that their homeland would not be invaded by change, by a strange economic system. The mountain people got caught up in the social and political savagery in a system of which they were barely a part.