Study Guide

Jacob Have I Loved Chapter 17

By Katherine Paterson

Chapter 17

  • The day before Christmas 1946, Call and Caroline are married.
  • Louise's parents both head to New York for the ceremony, but Louise stays behind with Grandma. Grandma can't travel that far, and Louise really can't bear to watch Caroline take yet another thing from her.
  • Grandma isn't too bad for these few days. She seems confused, but Louise tries to be patient with her. When Grandma brings up the Captain, this time she's full of sadness.
  • She tells Louise that she wanted to marry the Captain when she was younger, but she was too poor and too young to catch his eye. By the time she grew up, he had left town.
  • Even after all of the abuse Grandma has put Louise through, she feels sorry for her.
  • Louise suggests they invite him over for Christmas dinner, and Grandma agrees.
  • At dinner, Grandma talks about her own death. She's afraid to die, plus water might get into her coffin. That's one of the terrible things about getting old: you die.
  • No, the Captain tells her, being old is awesome. You know tons of things young people can't possibly know.
  • He also confirms that the story about him being afraid during the storm and chopping down the mast on his father's boat is true. It took him 50 years to figure out how to deal with that one moment.
  • After Grandma drifts off to sleep, the Captain tells Louise that she's not meant to stay on this island. She can do whatever she puts her mind to—she just has to figure out what that should be.
  • Louise says that she has always wanted to see the mountains. Maybe she should be a doctor? She didn't really want to marry Call; she just wanted something good to happen to her.
  • The Captain asks her what's stopping her from leaving.
  • Louise figures she can't leave her parents … or can she?

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