In which Shane and Joe uproot a tree stump, and Marian bakes apple pies.
Doesn't sound like much to write a whole chapter about, does it? And yet, I find it fascinating. The description of Joe and Shane attacking that tree stump is so moving -- how they start off with such fervor, but then settle into a patient, determined session of chopping. By the way, this is totally an aside, but my goodness, what wonderful physical shape those two must be in! To chop at a tree stump hour after hour like that? I wouldn't be able to move the next day.
I think one of the things I like best about how this book is written is the way that Bob freely admits that as a child, he didn't understand what was going on between the adults at times, but that he doesn't then try to provide his own adult commentary on it. He tells it like he experienced it, and doesn't try to shoehorn his own morals and meanings into it. I dig that.
Anyway, while Joe is out learning to he doesn't have to be self-sufficient, Marian is learning to be content. She tries to change up her bonnet to look fashionable, the way Shane told her bonnets were being decorated in the city, then realizes she's being foolish and vain, trying to be something or someone she isn't. She's pretty embarrassed by this, though, and it takes her the rest of the day to get over not only the embarrassment of trying to be fashionable, but also of burning an apple pie. Poor Marian.
Don't you love Joe's response to Marian's hat, though? He says that "whether you have a hat on or whether you don't have a hat on, you're the nicest thing to me that ever happened on God's green earth" (p. 20). Awwwwwwww. What a sweet guy.
The silence was clean and wholesome, and this was one of the things you could never forget whatever time might do to you in the furrowing of the years... (p. 26).
Possible Discussion Questions:
I'll ask the obvious one here: what do you think the stump symbolizes? And how about the pie? Why do you think Schaefer put the pie in there too, and didn't just stick with the stump?