Study Guide

A Northern Light Chapter 49

By Jennifer Donnelly

Chapter 49

  • Mattie finally awakens very early in the morning after her dream of Grace's corpse. She gets up, counts her savings, and realizes that she has thirty-one dollars, so she packs her bag and makes her way to Mr. Morrison's office, where she puts Grace's letters on his desk with a note.
  • Then she writes three more notes. The first is to her father, with money for his new mule and a promise that she will write; the second is to Weaver's mom, with money and instructions to pay off Emmie Hubbard's taxes; and the third is to Royal, which includes the ring and an apology.
  • Then she puts the notes in the mail basket and stops to place Grace's hat next to her body. As she says goodbye to Grace, she thinks, "it is a bad thing to break a promise, but I think now that it is a worse thing to let a promise break you" (49.5).
  • Finally, Mattie goes and wakes up Weaver. She tells him she's leaving and gives him money to pay for a train ticket to New York; when Weaver expresses concern about his mother, Mattie tells him that the taxes have been paid, though she leaves out the bit about being the one who paid them.
  • Weaver picks up the money, hugs Mattie, and asks her why she's leaving at this point. She says it's because Grace can't, then they duel one more time, and Mattie leaves.
  • Mattie waits at the train station, full of fear but resolved in her decision. She only has a little money left, but she has the address of Miss Wilcox's sister, who has been prepared to board Mattie from the start.
  • Even though Mattie has had second thoughts about leaving, she doesn't want to turn back; when a train pulls into the station, reporters flood the platform, intrigued by the drowning that occurred at the Glenmore.
  • Mattie closes her eyes and pictures Chester's deceptions and actions, Grace's last moments, and Chester's present day activities.
  • When the conductor to New York calls all aboard, Mattie hesitates, thinking of her family, her friends, and her home.
  • She boards the train, "leaving, but I will take this place and its stories with me wherever I go" (49.63), and the train rolls forward, heading south to Mattie's future and the rest of her life.

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