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The House of Dies Drear

The House of Dies Drear


by Virginia Hamilton

The House of Dies Drear Chapter 11 Summary

  • Mr. Small decides to take everybody to lunch at the cafeteria in the college. Then they plan to try to find a locksmith for the lock Thomas broke last night.
  • He's anxious because he knows Thomas wants and needs to meet people his own age, and knows it won't be easy.
  • It will just take time.
  • As Mr. Small gives them a tour of the campus, Thomas forgets about the way they were looked at in church, and about the mystery of the new house.
  • Mrs. Small doesn't want to climb the steps to Mr. Small's office, so she and the twins stay behind while Thomas and Mr. Small go up.
  • Mr. Small tells Thomas that, "Nothing much changes in places like these. Here, there will be time to think, and time even to get bored" (11.14).
  • Thomas angrily asks why his dad always wants to stay the same.
  • Mr. Small reminds him that he's had to adjust himself to live here, too. It's hard to be middle aged and start over.
  • Thomas asks him why he bothers with it, then, if nothing much is different.
  • Mr. Small doesn't answer, but guides Thomas to look out the window at the town.
  • Upset, Thomas says he can't get a solid grip on the town; he thinks the town doesn't like him, doesn't want him!
  • (He seems to be referring to the land of the town itself, rather than the people. This is called "personification" – giving human characteristics to non-human things.)
  • Thomas is in tears and he tells his father angrily that he doesn't care.
  • Mr. Small asks him why he's so mad at him, and Thomas says he's just mad because he wants change and change isn't coming.
  • He's upset because the church is segregated. He wants black and white people to come together at church.
  • Mr. Small knows the town is safe, and he tells Thomas he'll just have to give the town, and the church a chance.
  • Thomas says he just wants to go eat.
  • As Thomas turns from the window he notices something next to one of the bookshelves.
  • Scared, he points it out to his father –
  • The fourth triangle!
  • This means somebody has been watching them, following them.
  • Thomas feels better now. If someone is warning them, then someone must care about him.
  • He asks his dad if there is any "danger" (11.49).
  • Mr. Small isn't sure, but he wants to go eat, and then find a locksmith, so they can get back to the house as soon as possible.
  • The family enjoys a delicious meal, and Thomas feels really good.
  • After eating, they drive into town to try to find a locksmith.
  • Thomas's dad points out a church where white people attend, and tells Thomas he can go to that church anytime he wants.
  • At the drugstore, Mr. Small learns that none of the locksmiths are open on Sunday, but the Carrs, the people who own the gas station, might be able to help them.
  • The gas station is by the junior high school Thomas will be going to. He'll get to see it, his father tells him.
  • Whoa. Thomas has forgotten all about school. He asks if he can have a few more days before he starts. Mr. Small says Easter vacation will still be on for a few more days here.
  • At the gas station, Thomas's dad introduces himself as Walter Small.
  • Mr. Carr says that he's the youngest of the Carr brothers. He has locks, but wouldn't be able to install them until Monday.
  • He asks if their home had been vandalized.
  • Mr. Small explains that Thomas broke the lock accidentally.
  • He tells Mr. Small that the Darrows live near them, and they have had problems with Mr. Pluto, and have been really mean to him.
  • Apparently, Grandfather Darrow and Pluto have issues from way back.
  • Mr. Small asks him if the grandfather is still alive. Carr says he's been dead a few years, but that he was a mean guy.
  • The Darrows do weird things on their farm. For example, they dig up trees, and then replant them.
  • Once, when River Swift Darrow, the grandfather, was alive, they actually moved their house, and then moved it back.
  • Mr. Carr used to hang out with one of the grandfather's sons, Wilbur Darrow, but River Swift didn't like him being around. Darrow called Mr. Carr a "redneck" (11.97).
  • Carr says that he and his family don't see "difference" (11.97).
  • (The term redneck suggests that Carr is white. The Smalls and Pluto are black or of mixed race. The Darrows seem to be a mix of black and Native American.)
  • Carr says that Mac Darrow is a nice boy, not rough like the rest of his family.
  • But, he specifically warns the Smalls to be careful of their neighbors, the Darrows.
  • As the Smalls drive away, Carr says he has good gas, and that he and his brothers do lots of different jobs.
  • Mr. Small says they'll definitely be back to use their services.

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