Small Great Things

Small Great Things

by

Jodi Picoult

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Small Great Things: Chapter 19, Ruth Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
On the morning of the trial, Ruth knocks on Edison's door. She finds him in bed, awake, and he refuses to go. Kennedy had asked that he skip school to come, and Ruth didn't tell her that Edison has been skipping school already, drinking, and smoking. They argue about whether or not he should go, and he finally agrees when Ruth snaps that she might never come back.
For Ruth, it's important that Edison be there with her so that she can still feel connected to her family now that Mama is gone. He'll be the sole representative of Ruth's nuclear family, which will help others identify with Ruth's role as a mother.
Themes
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
Ruth explains that last night, Kennedy stopped by with news that Davis had MCADD. Ruth stared at the results and thought that it's not a lie anymore that Davis had a life-threatening condition. She thought about her lie that she hadn't touched Davis and felt ashamed that she'd lied in the first place. Bursting into tears, Ruth realized Kennedy was right—it didn't matter who touched Davis; he would've died anyway.
When Ruth cries after learning that Davis had MCADD, it shows that even though she resents Turk and Brit for what they did to her, her capacity to love and recognize Davis's humanity and his right to live remains strong. She is still a good and empathetic person, and a nurse who wants to care for all her patients.
Themes
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
As Ruth and Edison step off the bus, Ruth receives a call from Adisa. Ruth follows Adisa's instructions to head towards the front of the courthouse, where she sees Wallace Mercy preaching to a huge group of black people. Adisa promises that she didn't tell him anything as she hangs up. Ruth and Edison slip to the back of the courthouse to meet Kennedy.
Wallace Mercy shows up anyway—even if Ruth won't work with him directly, he still wants her to know that her black community will be there for her (and perhaps also wants a captive audience). Ruth's seeming acceptance of this suggests that she'll take all the help she can get.
Themes
Belonging and Community Theme Icon