Study Guide

Alligator Bayou Chapter 26

By Donna Jo Napoli

Chapter 26

  • Desperate, terrified, and grieving, Calo runs and runs toward the big river. He is sad and prays that his family is spared.
  • Dogs are coming up from behind, and Calo realizes they probably belong to the sheriff.
  • Calo runs harder and faster, but the dogs are gaining on him. The ground starts to turn swampy, and Calo can only trudge through it. He remembers Frank Raymond telling that a swamp was south of the path along the river, so at least he knows where he is.
  • Then Calo gets scared all over again because Patricia told him alligators live in swamps and that there are even worse creatures than alligators in swamps too.
  • The dogs gain on Calo, but then he hears a man shout to the rest of the people running to keep back because an alligator just caught one of the dogs and is now ripping it to shreds.
  • Taking advantage of the distraction, Calo runs into the river in front of him, and the current sweeps him away just as the mob reaches the bank.
  • Kicking across the water, he comes to a low branch on the bank and hangs on. He stays there a long time thinking of Carlo tied up on his knees, wanting to make the sign of the cross.
  • Cold and exhausted, Calo pulls himself out of the water after hiding in it for hours and runs north, toward Joseph, crying and running.
  • Joseph finds him and pulls him into his house to sleep, but Calo just keeps talking, saying that he needs to figure out what to do, that Joseph might be in danger—but Joseph is patient and gentle with him. Calo tries to figure out where to go, where he even could go with his family, thinking they might still be alive.
  • Calo wants to go to New York to find work, but Joseph tells him it is a terrible place for Sicilians, and that Roosevelt wants to get rid of all Italians.
  • Finally, Calo falls asleep.
  • When he wakes up, Calo is alone and still so distraught that he vomits and feels like screaming, praying hard that his family is alive.
  • Soon Joseph appears with a sack and makes Calo eat some peaches for strength. Joseph tells him that he went to Miliken's Bend to buy things for his trip, and that while he was there he overheard that all of Calo's family is dead.
  • Overcome with grief and sorrow, Calo shakes uncontrollably, and Joseph holds him.
  • The two friends in Miliken's Bend got away safely, but Calo feels alone for the first time, anyway. Joseph invites him to think about how he is free to do anything he wants, but Calo can't think about that—he feels totally responsible for everything.
  • Joseph won't let Calo blame himself. He tells Calo that the white folks were waiting for any excuse, any chance to kill Calo and his family.
  • Joseph makes Calo think about the good people, the ones who helped him.
  • Calo thinks of Patricia and his friends, Frank and the barber, Miss Clarrie, Joseph. Then suddenly he remembers his brother Rocco.
  • Joseph pulls a log out of the bushes that has been hollowed into a canoe—though it still looks very much like a log—so Calogero will be disguised while floating down the river to a city where lots of Sicilians live, Tangipahoa Parish. There are strawberry fields there, too.
  • Calo is frightened and weak and feels like he can't do it: it is all too scary and hard for him, he thinks. But Joseph encourages him and gives him advice for how to manage the boat, which is named after the word for wind in Tunica.
  • Calo doesn't want to get in and go, but he does anyway, thereby beginning his journey toward his freedom and his brother, with a promise to be back one day.

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