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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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