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MonkeyNotes-Sounder by W.H. Armstrong
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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES

Chapter 1

Summary

On the most distant fringe of a white man's field, there is a tiny ramshackle cabin where a black sharecropper lives with his wife, his children, and his dog named Sounder. Life is hard for this black family; even though they are hard working, decent folks, there is usually not enough to eat and never enough money for even the basic necessities of life.

Sounder is an integral part of the family, loved by all. Even though he can be a ferocious coon dog, he serves as a pet for the family; he is also a good and reliable hunting companion. Sounder has appropriately been given his name because of his thundering voice.

At the start of the novel, winter has set in; the fields are barren, and the crop has not been good. Father is forced to find alternative means for feeding his family. Accompanied by his faithful dog Sounder, he ventures forth to hunt for coons every evening; but hunting in winter is very difficult, for the earth is frozen and possums and coons are scarce. He usually returns home in a dejected mood with an empty sack. He is miserable when he cannot provide sufficient food for his family to eat. The whole family tries to help out. The eldest child collects walnuts from the woods; Mother cracks and picks the nuts and sells them to the local store for fifteen cents a pound. She also washes clothes for the people who live in the big house down the road.


To everyone's surprise, one night Father goes out by himself without Sounder. The next morning the children wake up to the delicious aroma of simmering ham. The boy watches with fascination as Father lifts the lid off the pot with his bare hands and lays the ham on oak slabs. Within a few minutes, the children finish a scrumptious meal.

After eating, Mother resumes her task of picking walnuts; she hums a melancholic tune as she works. Several times Father wipes the steam from the windowpane and peers outside, as if he were looking for something. The boy wishes that his mother would stop and tell him some Bible stories; they always helped to drive away the dreariness of the cabin. The child also wishes that his parents could read and hopes that someday he will be able to,

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