Peace Like a River

The novel’s narrator and protagonist, Reuben is the 11-year-old son of Jeremiah Land. Reuben idolizes his older brother, Davy, and he is best friends with his younger sister, Swede. As a newborn, Reuben didn’t breathe for twelve minutes until his father, performing a miracle, ordered him to in the name fo God—from then on, Reuben believes he was put on the earth to witness his father's miracles, which makes Reuben a disciple of his Christlike father. The novel is Reuben’s coming of age story, and his most significant development as a character is his struggle to grasp moral ambiguity. When Davy kills two teenagers who were threatening the Land family, Reuben’s immaturity leads him to see Davy’s act as an epic and heroic example of frontier justice. However, as the novel progresses, Reuben is confronted by moral complexity and he must reconcile his simplistic ideas with more mature perspectives on Davy’s situation. While Reuben feels unwavering loyalty to Davy, he eventually comes to understand that Davy committed a crime, which shows that Reuben has come of age. At the end of the novel, Jeremiah performs a final miracle when he and Reuben are shot and go to heaven: Jeremiah, who is much less severely wounded than Reuben, dies so that Reuben can live. As such, Reuben narrates the story of his family in order to honor his father’s sacrifice and spread the truth of his miracles.

Reuben Land Quotes in Peace Like a River

The Peace Like a River quotes below are all either spoken by Reuben Land or refer to Reuben Land. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Youth vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Grove Atlantic edition of Peace Like a River published in 2002.
Clay Quotes

I believe I was preserved, through those twelve airless minutes, in order to be a witness, and as a witness, let me say that a miracle is no cute thing but more like the swing of a sword.

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Jeremiah Land (Dad)
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

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His Separate Shadow Quotes

It took me a second to realize he meant us. Dread landed flopping in my stomach. We'd never had an enemy before, unless you counted Russia.

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Jeremiah Land (Dad), Davy Land, Tommy Basca
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:

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"Rube, you're almost like Davy now, aren't you. I mean, you shot a goose this morning."

Related Characters: Swede Land (speaker), Reuben Land, Davy Land
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

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Your Toughened Heart Quotes

When did it come to Davy Land that exile is a country of shifting borders, hard to quit yet hard to endure, no matter your wide shoulders, no matter your toughened heart?

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Swede Land, Davy Land
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:

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Peeking at Eternity Quotes

Well, we all hold history differently inside us. For Swede such episodes retold themselves into a seamless and momentous narrative; she had a Homeric grasp on the significance of events, and still does; one of her recent letters asks, Is it hubris to believe we all live epics? (Perhaps it is, but I suspect she's not actually counting on me for an answer.)

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Jeremiah Land (Dad), Swede Land
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:

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But the whole thing bothered Davy, and with Dad out of earshot he'd say so. You couldn't get blown around in a tornado, he said, and not get banged up. It didn't make sense. It wasn't right.
Swede challenged him. "Are you calling Dad a liar?"
"Of course not. I know it happened. It just shouldn't have. Don't you see that?"

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Swede Land (speaker), Davy Land (speaker), Jeremiah Land (Dad)
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

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"Just because I write it doesn't mean it really happened."

Related Characters: Swede Land (speaker), Reuben Land
Related Symbols: Sunny Sundown, Valdez
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:

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When Sorrows Like Sea Billows Roll Quotes

My sister's resentments notwithstanding, Margery's pitiful recital contained a certain truth that I, at least, eventually had to face. Tommy Basca was an idiot, but he wasn't purebred evil. You could see looking at him that he might be somebody's Bubby.

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Swede Land, Tommy Basca
Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:

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It was the fact that Chester the Fester, the worst man I'd ever seen, even worse in his way than Israel Finch, got a whole new face to look out of and didn't even know to be grateful; while I, my father's son, had to be still and resolute and breathe steam to stay alive.

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Jeremiah Land (Dad), Israel Finch, Superintendent Chester Holgren
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:

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Late in the Night When the Fires Are Out Quotes

"We'll wait till they're asleep—take some of Mrs. DeCuellar's cookies—offer 'em to the guard, tell him we've got to see Davy—when he turns to me you grab his gun," and so on. It was one of those rare moments when I actually felt older than Swede. Seizing it, I told her to grow up.

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Swede Land (speaker), Davy Land, Mrs. DeCuellar
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

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A Boy on a Horse Quotes

They were the harshest words I'd ever heard him speak. I watched him sipping his coffee, his face foreign with misgiving. How I wanted to understand him! But I was eleven, and my brother had escaped from the pit where my vanity had placed him (a vain notion itself, Swede has since pointed out, yet it was certainty to me). How could my father not be joyous over such a thing? Who in this world could ask for more?

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Jeremiah Land (Dad), Swede Land, Davy Land
Page Number: 95
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"She wasn't his wife!" Swede flared. Past tense, you notice—history, even the fictive kind, being beyond our influence.

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Swede Land (speaker)
Related Symbols: Sunny Sundown
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Substance of Things Hoped For Quotes

How could we not have faith? For the foundation had been laid in prayer and sorrow. Since that fearful night, Dad had responded with the almost impossible work of belief. He had burned with repentance as though his own hand had fired the gun.

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Jeremiah Land (Dad)
Page Number: 131
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I watched his face and his futile, suety hands, and for the first time a question nipped at me: Was it possible that real loss had occurred at the death of Israel Finch? That real grief had been felt?

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Israel Finch, Mr. Finch
Page Number: 132
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At War with This Whole World Quotes

I feared the outcome of honest speech—that it might reach forward in time and arrange events to come. If I told Swede I wanted Davy back, even at the cost of his freedom, might that not happen? And if I said what I sensed was the noble thing... might that not bring despair on this whole crusade of ours?

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Swede Land, Davy Land
Related Symbols: Valdez
Page Number: 152
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Could a person believe so strongly one way, yet take the opposite route? I wanted to ask Swede, but again, if I posed it aloud, it might become true, and then we were in for all sorts of tangles.

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Swede Land, Davy Land, August Schultz
Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:

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Something Warm Quotes

"Well," I said, "he wrote a whole book and it's in the Bible." Even Dad, much as I loved him, didn't have anything in there.

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Jeremiah Land (Dad), Swede Land
Page Number: 169
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Skin Bag Quotes

I thought it was odd, the trainman not recognizing him and raising a stink, but Swede pointed out that this sort of thing happened all the time. How many times did Zorro gallop magnificently out of town, everyone watching, then show up five minutes later as Diego, still breathing hard? And no one ever figured that out.

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Swede Land, Roxanna Crawley
Page Number: 192
Explanation and Analysis:

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Under the Gibbon Moon Quotes

Were Dad's heart my tablet I'd have taken it up and erased Davy's name, so terribly did I wish to stay, and had it been whispered to me that all of Roofing had burned... I'd have rolled down the window and shouted thanks to Heaven...

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Jeremiah Land (Dad), Davy Land, Roxanna Crawley
Page Number: 198
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Throbbing Heart of News Quotes

For some reason I recalled old Mr. Finch, freezing in the wind outside the post office. I felt awful about Mr. Finch and wanted to believe Davy might have too.

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Davy Land, Israel Finch, Mr. Finch
Page Number: 211
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Led? This was supposed to mean the Lord was in charge and paving your way, such as letting you get fired so you'll be free to leave town, or sending you an Airstream you can go in comfort. Dad knew something about being led, I realized, yet this I could not buy.

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Jeremiah Land (Dad), Roxanna Crawley, Martin Andreeson
Page Number: 217
Explanation and Analysis:

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Winning Her Hand Quotes

"If you like Mr. Andreeson better as an enemy, then keep him one. Maybe that's your job as a boy—as a brother. My job is different."
"How come?"
"Because I'm the dad. I have to heed the Lord's instructions."

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Jeremiah Land (Dad) (speaker), Martin Andreeson
Page Number: 246
Explanation and Analysis:

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But after talking with Dad, it was plain to me that Davy had done a grievous wrong. Don't misunderstand, I backed my brother all the way. Yet it had come to mean something whether he felt anything like repentance.

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker), Davy Land
Page Number: 248
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The Red Farm Quotes

"I can't," he replied, after a moment. "You know that, Swede." He looked, right then, for the first time in years, his age, which was seventeen.

Related Characters: Davy Land (speaker), Reuben Land, Jeremiah Land (Dad), Swede Land
Page Number: 295
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Curious Music That I Hear Quotes

Is there a single person on whom I can press belief?
No sir.
All I can do is say, Here's how it went. Here's what I saw.
I've been there and am going back.
Make of it what you will.

Related Characters: Reuben Land (speaker)
Page Number: 311
Explanation and Analysis:

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Reuben Land Character Timeline in Peace Like a River

The timeline below shows where the character Reuben Land appears in Peace Like a River. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Clay
Religion Theme Icon
Loyalty and Family Theme Icon
The narrator, Reuben, tells the reader that all he ever wanted was a "good set of lungs." When... (full context)
Religion Theme Icon
Loyalty and Family Theme Icon
When Jeremiah entered the room, Reuben lay uncovered on a metal table and Dr. Nokes was trying to comfort Mrs. Land.... (full context)
Religion Theme Icon
Fiction, Reality, and the American West Theme Icon
Addressing the reader, Reuben says he didn't think too much about his birth until much later, although he relished... (full context)
Religion Theme Icon
Loyalty and Family Theme Icon
Reuben says that while several people witnessed Jeremiah's miracles, most of them ignored what they saw.... (full context)
His Separate Shadow
Youth vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Loyalty and Family Theme Icon
Reuben says he thinks of his own survival as his father's first miracle. The second miracle... (full context)
Youth vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
Loyalty and Family Theme Icon
On the morning of the hunt, Dad, Davy, Reuben, and Swede settle into the field amongst their decoys. Reuben and Swede are too young... (full context)
Youth vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
Loyalty and Family Theme Icon
...fence, but the angry goose turns to Swede and begins to chase her back towards Reuben, Davy, and Dad. Dad laughs, and as Swede and the goose run past, Davy grabs... (full context)
Youth vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
Loyalty and Family Theme Icon
Back at August's farm, Davy asks Reuben if he wants Davy to show him how to gut the goose. Reuben insists on... (full context)
Youth vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
Fiction, Reality, and the American West Theme Icon
Loyalty and Family Theme Icon
Justice and Consequences Theme Icon
Reuben says that he doesn't understand what's going on with Dad and Davy. Swede explains that... (full context)
Youth vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
Fiction, Reality, and the American West Theme Icon
Loyalty and Family Theme Icon
Davy misses pancakes, but Dad doesn't comment. After pancakes Dad, Reuben, and Swede nap, but Reuben wakes to see Davy sitting on his bed oiling his... (full context)
Youth vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
Reuben explains that a "crawlup" entails belly crawling up to unsuspecting geese. Swede pretends to be... (full context)
Loyalty and Family Theme Icon
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That night, Reuben and Swede lie snuggled under mounds of quilts. Swede wonders if Davy will fight Israel... (full context)
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Swede decides to go back to her own room. After kissing Reuben, she remarks that he's "almost like Davy now" since he shot the goose. Reuben thinks... (full context)
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Reuben wakes just past midnight from a horrible nightmare. Scared to go back to sleep, he... (full context)
Beauteous Are My Cakes Indeed
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...the Lands arrive back home in Roofing, with Swede fast asleep in Dad's arms and Reuben struggling for breath, they find the front door tarred. Dad puts Swede into bed and... (full context)
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...the water boils, Dad sets the pot on a cutting board and the board on Reuben's lap and covers him with a sheet to create a steam tent. Reuben feels his... (full context)
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Dad says that the door isn't going to come clean, and begins to tell Reuben about the conflict that led up to the tarred door. Reuben doesn't want to hear,... (full context)
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Reuben says he learned later from Davy that Dolly, a clarinetist in the pep band, had... (full context)
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Reuben returns the narrative to the kitchen, and asks Dad what they will do in retaliation.... (full context)
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Reuben says he worried for a day and a half before routine took over. Reuben struggles... (full context)
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Reverend Johnny begins the service with very loud music featuring a trumpet. After an hour Reuben notices that Bethany is no longer in her seat, and he gets up to find... (full context)
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Reuben and Bethany watch for a moment, and Bethany points out that Jeremiah is on the... (full context)
Your Toughened Heart
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Reuben offers an excerpt of a poem Swede has been working on, in which Sunny Sundown... (full context)
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...Swede sit in his lap as he and Tommy drive away from the Land house. Reuben says that Swede's abduction might seem inconsequential compared to the other, far more violent abductions... (full context)
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Reuben listens in on the adults that night and hears Ted Pullet, the local police officer,... (full context)
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Swede turns nine the following morning. Dad, Davy, and Reuben wake her up in the morning singing "Happy Birthday" to her, and Reuben is relieved... (full context)
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As Davy and Reuben walk, Davy asks Reuben if he saw Swede's bruises. They wonder if Dad is afraid... (full context)
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Reuben and Davy encounter a tramp sleeping in the woods and quietly back away. Reuben tells... (full context)
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Swede's birthday dinner is the Land family's favorite chowder. When Reuben and Davy enter the house, it's evident that Tin Lurvy is planning on staying for... (full context)
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...to snow. Dad trips over Swede's saddle on his way to bed, and Swede and Reuben head to bed. Davy goes out, and Reuben wonders again about Swede's bruises. He gets... (full context)
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After midnight Reuben hears the back door open and notices that both Dad and Davy are in bed... (full context)
Peeking at Eternity
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Reuben explains that Davy would be very annoyed if Reuben tried to cast what happened in... (full context)
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Stepping out of the narrative, Reuben says that when Dad was 28 he was picked up by a tornado. Dad was... (full context)
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...event, Dad finished the semester, moved off campus, and found work as a plumber's assistant. Reuben says he can only explain this logic with Dad's own words that "he was treated... (full context)
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Returning to the narrative, Reuben says the police put Davy in cuffs and took him to jail. The rest of... (full context)
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...Lands don't know call on them regularly, while many people they do know ignore them. Reuben lists several of these people and assures the reader that he does mean to forgive... (full context)
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...and doesn't want to be bothered. Dad is at work, but had given Swede and Reuben the option of staying out of school for another week. Reuben says he thinks that... (full context)
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...remorseful. As such, Mr. DeCuellar's attempt to have Davy tried as a juvenile doesn't pass. Reuben says this only made sense, as Davy had been an adult already for a long... (full context)
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Swede remains in her room working on her poem. One day, Reuben finds Dr. Nokes standing outside Swede's window, looking confused at the chanting and pounding noises... (full context)
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That night, Swede comes into Reuben's room with a sleeping bag and asks to sleep in Davy's bed. She wonders if... (full context)
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Swede reads Reuben several options for Valdez's death. Reuben thinks they sound fine, but Swede insists that just... (full context)
When Sorrows Like Sea Billows Roll
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The next day, Mr. Holgren fires Dad. In the school cafeteria, Reuben sits with his class drinking milk out of bottles, the entire class wearing paper pilgrim... (full context)
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Reuben laughs and Mr. Holgren glares at him before starting towards him around the table. Mr.... (full context)
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Mr. Holgren then angrily fires Dad. As Reuben starts toward his father, he watches Dad reach up and slap Mr. Holgren in the... (full context)
Late in the Night When the Fires Are Out
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...their house. Afterwards, they head to the courthouse, where they're not allowed to visit Davy. Reuben and Swede pace the hallway until someone offers them a private office where they can... (full context)
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Reuben thinks that the judge looks like a vain man, while Davy looks short and skinny.... (full context)
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As the trial continues, Reuben understands that Davy has no chance. Even Dolly's testimony seems to have little effect on... (full context)
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That night, Reuben and Swede sleep in sleeping bags in the DeCuellars’ study. Swede states that they're going... (full context)
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Reuben takes the stand the following afternoon. Elvis approaches, tries to chat patronizingly with Reuben, and... (full context)
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That night, Reuben agrees to break Davy out of jail. Swede and Reuben make childish plans, and Reuben... (full context)
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After Reuben and Swede go to bed, they arm themselves with stolen steak knives tucked into their... (full context)
A Boy on a Horse
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Reuben says that Swede delighted in finding out that Davy escaped by pony, but they didn't... (full context)
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That same night, Reuben falls asleep listening to Swede typing away in her own room. He wakes to find... (full context)
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Reuben asks Swede what happened to Valdez. Tears well up in Swede's eyes as she admits... (full context)
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...stops answering the phone. He spends his nights praying over his Bible. One night when Reuben gets up to breathe steam, he asks Dad if reading the Bible helps. Dad can't... (full context)
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The snowstorms begin the first week of December, and Reuben and Swede don't go back to school. Swede amasses a stack of schoolbooks in her... (full context)
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Reuben keeps reading new installments of Swede's epic poem. A woman who isn't Sunny's wife rescues... (full context)
By the Grace of Lurvy
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...bleak for the Lands—Dad finds irregular work, but soon comes down with a bad cough. Reuben and Swede wonder if they could look appropriately grateful if they receive only oranges for... (full context)
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Reuben says that years later, Dr. Nokes said his main concern wasn't Dad, but Reuben, as... (full context)
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Reuben begins the job of taking down the corncrib in the middle of December. While the... (full context)
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Swede tells Reuben that Dad is worse, and his lungs are filling up like Reuben's do. Hearing Dad... (full context)
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Back out at the corncrib, Reuben encounters a young boy named Raymond in the corncrib. Raymond is extremely congested and asks... (full context)
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Reuben says that while the corncrib was the hardest work he'd ever done at that point,... (full context)
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Reuben finishes tearing down the corncrib a few days later. He wishes that Raymond were there... (full context)
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Swede and Reuben spend two days wondering what fantastic things $25 could buy. Reuben wishes he knew what... (full context)
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Later that morning, Reuben tells Swede that he'd like to buy a canoe. Swede replies that they're out of... (full context)
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Reuben lists some of the foodstuffs he and Swede buy. Dad is especially happy with the... (full context)
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That night, Swede tells Reuben how the outlaw Cole Younger was captured after a bank raid. The night before Younger... (full context)
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...Swede wakes early and begins preparing Christmas dinner, saying she can't wait for actual Christmas. Reuben and Dad spend the day wandering through the house smelling the food smells wafting out... (full context)
The Substance of Things Hoped For
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Dad, Reuben, and Swede leave on January 22. They stop the Plymouth (their old car) at the... (full context)
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Dad, Reuben, and Swede reach August and Birdie's house late in the afternoon. Their arrival rouses Reuben... (full context)
The Last Thing He Would Do
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...Birdie tells her that Davy said being without his family is like having no sun. Reuben says he thought it was a funny thing for Davy to say, since he wasn't... (full context)
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Swede feigns exhaustion, but Dad sees right through it. Reuben explains that Dad is well aware that the children's assigned bedroom has a floor vent... (full context)
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Reuben doesn't understand what Dad wants to trade, and finds that most of the conversation is... (full context)
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Reuben is the first one up the next morning and he smells something different in the... (full context)
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August saddles their two horses, Laurie and Brit, and instructs Reuben to mount. They walk down through the pasture. Reuben is scared; he has to haul... (full context)
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As the fog begins to lift, Reuben can pick out a small house in the distance with a big black turkey lurking... (full context)
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Reuben asks August how long he thinks it'll take them to find Davy. August only says... (full context)
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Over breakfast, August winks several times at Reuben while Swede pouts at having been left out. Dad calls Reuben "Natty Bumppo" (a character... (full context)
At War with This Whole World
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...her saddle on a sawhorse, the typewriter on a folding table in front of her. Reuben says that Swede wrote dozens of pages before their journey ended. However, her writing neglected... (full context)
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Reuben offers a few lines of Swede's writing that mention stealing their brother back. The thought... (full context)
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...asks why August gave Davy the Studebaker if he wanted Davy to turn himself in. Reuben has no real answer, though Reuben wonders to himself if it's possible for someone to... (full context)
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Reuben asks Swede what she's writing about, which turns out to be nightshirts. They discuss why... (full context)
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The Lands stop at a park in Linton at noon to cook beans. After lunch Reuben and Dad take a nap, but Reuben wakes minutes later to Swede saying that Andreeson... (full context)
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...enemies, which Dad refutes. Andreeson leaves and Swede bursts in through the door moments later. Reuben thinks that he hadn't noticed she even left. (full context)
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Reuben and Swede sit in the back of the Airstream on Dad's bed to watch the... (full context)
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Reuben reminds the reader of the 1955 Plymouth's poor gas mileage and describes the two five-gallon... (full context)
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...to pass it by. He states that the price is high, but Swede whispers to Reuben that a state officer was sitting at the station. Dad passes several more stations, and... (full context)
Something Warm
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Reuben and his family make it through Mandan without being sighted by a single police officer.... (full context)
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Reuben wonders why Andreeson went to such lengths to find them. Swede says she expected it,... (full context)
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...closed the following day. Dad asks Swede to pray for more gas, tucks her and Reuben into bed, and goes to his room. (full context)
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Later, Swede asks Reuben why they even have to buy more gas after miraculously evading state troopers earlier that... (full context)
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Reuben says he doesn't know if Dad prays for "them" (miracles) or if they just happen.... (full context)
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...19 degrees the next morning. The trailer ran out of propane in the night, so Reuben, Dad, and Swede eat dry cereal for breakfast since the milk is frozen. As Reuben... (full context)
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Reuben, Swede, and Dad wait inside while Roxanna fills the propane tank. A nanny goat and... (full context)
The Skin Bag
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...in Montana. Her mother died when she was young, so she grew up motherless like Reuben and Swede are doing. She learned how to ranch from her father, and later helped... (full context)
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...talks, Dad leans back and seems very happy at how their evening is playing out. Reuben remarks that by this point Dad had been so long without a wife that this... (full context)
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That night Reuben dreams that a creepy little man with a bag made of skin comes to steal... (full context)
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When Reuben wakes the next morning, he looks out the window to see snow hip deep. Swede... (full context)
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Swede wakes Reuben up several hours later, excited by the deep snow and the fact that Dad decided... (full context)
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Reuben tackles Swede to the ground. Swede easily wins the scuffle, stands up, and yells at... (full context)
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...a while. She says she likes Roxanna, and they agree that it's better they stay. Reuben says to the reader that the fact that they're snowed in at Roxanna's is surely... (full context)
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Reuben asks when they're going to leave, and suggests they'll probably get arrested as soon as... (full context)
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It takes the county snowplows days to reach the house, so Reuben and Swede fill their days helping Roxanna with chores. One day, as Roxanna cleans out... (full context)
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...the snowplows are coming. He tells Roxanna that they can settle up and leave tomorrow. Reuben and Swede can barely stand the idea of leaving. Roxanna smiles at Dad and asks... (full context)
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After the plow passes, Dad instructs Reuben and Swede to pack their things. Swede is extremely upset, and isn't comforted by Reuben's... (full context)
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When Reuben and Swede enter the kitchen for supper, they find Roxanna standing at the counter. She... (full context)
Under the Gibbon Moon
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Reuben explains that the reader might find the picnic basket in the middle of winter confusing,... (full context)
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...from the top, they see steam, heat, and flames coming from cracks in the earth. Reuben thinks it looks like a beautiful Hell. Roxanna explains that this is a vein of... (full context)
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Roxanna remains silent through all of this. Reuben tells the reader that judging by the look on her face, she'd raised Davy herself.... (full context)
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Reuben feels sick and scared of Andreeson. Dad refuses Andreeson's request and tells Andreeson he's suggesting... (full context)
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Later that night, Swede and Reuben wonder why Andreeson didn't arrest them and what exactly "spookism" is. Reuben wonders why Andreeson... (full context)
The Throbbing Heart of News
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The next morning, Reuben is carrying eggs from the barn when he sees a man on horseback up on... (full context)
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Reuben runs back outside, through the barn, and begins to climb the hill. He feels adventurous... (full context)
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Reuben reaches the horse's trail and decides to follow it, still imagining meeting Mr. Ford. As... (full context)
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Davy pulls Reuben up behind him on the horse and they pick their way down the hill. When... (full context)
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Davy says he spied on Reuben and the rest of the family last night at the lignite field. He asks who... (full context)
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Davy asks about Roxanna, and Reuben gives a cursory explanation. Reuben suggests that Davy come down to Roxanna's to see Swede,... (full context)
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...the subject. He says he didn't steal the horse; the horse belongs to a friend. Reuben asks if the friend is Lonnie Ford. Davy grows restless, and Reuben begins to panic... (full context)
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Reuben asks what Davy's friend's name is. Davy says that his friend is in a lot... (full context)
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When Reuben enters Roxanna's house, Swede is grumpily mixing up frosting for cinnamon rolls. Swede asks if... (full context)
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Roxanna tries to show Reuben how he was led to do things too, like purchase groceries with his $25. Reuben... (full context)
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Roxanna tells Reuben and Swede that Butch Cassidy didn't die in Bolivia; rather, he died in Kansas. Swede... (full context)
The Little Man's Country
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That night, Reuben fearfully walks out past the barn. He tries to think of storybook characters to give... (full context)
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Davy and Reuben ride silently and Reuben loses track of time. Finally they come upon a valley like... (full context)
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Mr. Waltzer leans down to Reuben and asks Reuben what he'd say if he was told that the hills will turn... (full context)
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Mr. Waltzer invites Reuben to sit at the table in the cabin, and tells Reuben to ask him anything.... (full context)
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...answers that this place is a good one to wait for the world to change. Reuben asks if the world is changing the way Mr. Waltzer wants it to, and Mr.... (full context)
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Reuben suddenly feels very tired and looks down. Mr. Waltzer accuses him of praying to God... (full context)
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...Waltzer calms the pig and calls for Sara. She emerges from behind the sheets and Reuben wonders why she was in there instead of eating with them. Mr. Waltzer asks Sara... (full context)
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Mr. Waltzer asks Reuben what he wants to do with his life, and Reuben answers that he'd like to... (full context)
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Reuben dreams of the man with the skin bag again and wakes to Mr. Waltzer's face... (full context)
Winning Her Hand
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Reuben explains that Teddy Roosevelt had asthma as a child. His father would gallop down the... (full context)
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Reuben sleeps off and on all day. At one point he wakes to see Swede sitting... (full context)
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Reuben finally wakes in the evening feeling much better. Roxanna deems him recovered and feeds him... (full context)
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Later that night, Swede and Reuben see Dad appear by the gas pumps. They bounce excitedly in the window. Dad looks... (full context)
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Dad moves out to sleep in the Airstream that night. Swede tells Reuben that it's "for honor," which she finds quite romantic. Reuben asks why they're not moving... (full context)
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In the barn, Reuben tells Dad that he liked it better when Mr. Andreeson was an enemy. Dad leads... (full context)
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That afternoon, Reuben spots Davy on the hillside. Davy is waiting for Reuben behind the barn again that... (full context)
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Reuben tells the reader that he made the trip with Davy three more times and struggled... (full context)
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Reuben asks Davy if he's afraid of Mr. Waltzer. Davy says he isn't, he just listens... (full context)
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On Reuben's second visit, Sara asks if Mr. Waltzer showed Reuben his missing fingers. She explains that... (full context)
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Reuben wakes up around noon the next day, barely able to breath and feverish again. Dad... (full context)
Boy Ready
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Reuben tells the reader that his breathing overall is getting much worse at this point in... (full context)
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Swede sits with Reuben reading Psalms. She tells Reuben that Dad is off courting Roxanna, and Reuben realizes that... (full context)
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Reuben decides to tell Swede about Davy, but when he opens his eyes Swede is reading... (full context)
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Reuben still doesn't feel any better. All he can think of is Davy in the shack,... (full context)
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After Dr. Nickles leaves, Dad comes upstairs and asks Reuben if the steam helps. Reuben insists it does. Dad asks how the adrenaline is working,... (full context)
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The next morning, Reuben goes down to the kitchen to find Mr. Andreeson sitting at the table drinking coffee... (full context)
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Reuben prays throughout the day and sneaks outside several times, hoping to see Davy. Finally, in... (full context)
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...two days, the Lands hear nothing from Andreeson. A chilling wind picks up outside, and Reuben, thinking of Davy and Sara, wonders out loud to Swede how long it'd take to... (full context)
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Reuben sits outside the trailer and listens to Dad plucking away on the guitar and singing.... (full context)
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When the wind finally ends, Dad, Swede, and Roxanna go outside to shovel and Reuben is tasked with waiting by the phone. Reuben continues to worry about Davy in the... (full context)
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A horrible thought grips Reuben. Dad asks Reuben what's wrong, and Reuben says that Andreeson is in trouble. He thinks... (full context)
The Ledger of Our Decisions
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The next morning, Reuben sits with the posse that will ride on horseback to Mr. Waltzer's cabin and take... (full context)
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Reuben tells the reader that Swede unsurprisingly took Reuben's betrayal very badly. Swede feels betrayed that... (full context)
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Reuben and the posse ride through the snowy hills. Mr. Juval rides up beside Reuben and... (full context)
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Reuben begins to recognize the landscape. He questions whether he did the right thing ratting out... (full context)
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...left is a steep and slick hill. The posse climbs the hill strung out, and Reuben feels exhilarated that he's protecting Davy. At the top, Mr. Juval and Mr. Ford trot... (full context)
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...who miraculously survived the fall. He's bruised and broken but fortunately unconscious. Mr. Juval takes Reuben aside and asks if he misdirected the posse on purpose. Reuben admits he did, and... (full context)
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The posse puts Mr. Ford in a thicket and tasks Reuben with staying behind to look after him. The posse heads off to the cabin and... (full context)
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Snuggled against Mr. Ford's horse, Reuben cries and prays for Davy, Andreeson, Sara, and Mr. Waltzer. When he hears Mr. Ford... (full context)
The Red Farm
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Reuben tells the reader that Dad and Roxanna got married in March. They returned to Roofing... (full context)
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A few days after the wedding, Dad tasks Reuben with cleaning out the Airstream (which Dad had sold to Dr. Nokes months ago) while... (full context)
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Reuben tells one investigator that Mr. Waltzer surely put Andreeson's body in a lignite vein, but... (full context)
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Reuben says he wasn't waiting for a miracle anymore. He figures that Roxanna was God's parting... (full context)
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Bethany Orchard and her family visit in May. Reuben realizes that Bethany isn't truly interested in him, as she soon leaves him to be... (full context)
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...and Roxanna. Swede asks Davy if he'll stay too, but Davy tells her he can't. Reuben thinks that Davy actually looks his age as he says this. (full context)
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...from jail and his following exploits eluding the law. He doesn't mention Mr. Waltzer, and Reuben believes this is Davy being considerate of Sara, who owes Mr. Waltzer for the last... (full context)
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Nobody mentions Andreeson, but Reuben thinks about him. After 11 pm, Reuben goes upstairs with Dad to make Sara's bed.... (full context)
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...hide. They hear a gunshot and Dad falls across the car. Roxanna tries to restrain Reuben on the porch, but he breaks free and runs towards Dad. Mr. Waltzer then shoots... (full context)
Be Jubilant, My Feet
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Reuben wades to the shore of a river he knows he's crossed. He tells the reader... (full context)
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As he walks through the orchard, the thought "Adam" comes to his mind. Reuben looks across a valley and sees a man dressed as a Spanish knight, running. Reuben... (full context)
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The orchard comes to an end and Reuben spots a man running by a stream. He recognizes the man as Jeremiah Land, and... (full context)
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...city is a great plain with rivers of people heading towards the city. Dad and Reuben watch and listen. Dad holds Reuben's hand and tells him to take care of Swede... (full context)
The Curious Music That I Hear
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Reuben tells the reader that while he was away, Jape Waltzer shot at the Ford and... (full context)
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Weeks later, Dr. Nokes sits with Reuben and admits he doesn't know how Reuben was breathing. Since his trip to the "next... (full context)
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Reuben says he must finish quickly, as Swede says that "drift is the bane of epilogues."... (full context)
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Jape Waltzer was never caught, much like Valdez. Davy eventually tells Reuben that Waltzer bludgeoned Andreeson and rolled the body into the lignite vein. When Reuben was... (full context)
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Reuben says that finally, the reader needs to know that one Thanksgiving when all except for... (full context)
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Davy, meanwhile, shows up some years in a small hunting town in Canada. Reuben goes every year to see the geese migrate. Swede went with Reuben twice, but Davy... (full context)
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Davy asks if Reuben ever doubts what happened. Reuben tells the reader that sometimes he does, but then he... (full context)