Study Guide

Jacob Have I Loved Chapter 18

By Katherine Paterson

Chapter 18

  • When Louise's parents come back from New York, they look like they've had a wonderful time, and her mother is wearing a new and fashionable hat. Fancy.
  • As soon as they walk in the door, though, Grandma starts to get hysterical, quoting from her Bible and hurling insults at Louise's mother, calling her a harlot.
  • Her mother ignores Grandma and goes about her business, but Louise can't understand why she doesn't lash out at the old woman.
  • When Louise tries to redirect Grandma, the old woman smacks her over the head with her Bible. Hey, Louise can't say she doesn't deserve it a little bit.
  • For the next few days, Grandma follows Louise's mother around the house, shouting Bible verses at her. Louise can't wait to get out of there and help her father catch oysters, but he doesn't seem in any hurry to get back to work.
  • Louise's mother suggests they wash the windows outside to get away from Grandma. The silence is nice, but finally, Louise can't take it any more, and she explodes at her mother.
  • She asks why her mother—who was pretty, smart, and could have done anything—came to Rass Island. Why would she waste her life there?
  • Her mother explains that she chose this island and this life and doesn't feel bad about it. She's happy with who she is and doesn't have any doubts about how things have turned out.
  • Louise still thinks it's a waste—she won't let her mother keep her on this island so she can ruin her life, too. So, there.
  • Her mother tells her she would never stop Louise from going out and achieving all of her dreams. She didn't stop Caroline, did she?
  • Louise says Caroline is different, though; everyone loves Caroline and does everything for her. They always have.
  • Louise's mother tells her they're willing to help Louise, too; she just has to say what she wants.
  • Well, Louise wants to leave.
  • Louise's mother mentions that this is the first time she's ever heard Louise say this, and she's right—Louise has been clinging to this place like a barnacle.
  • Louise can go explore the wide world, her mother tells her, but she'll be truly missed.
  • Louise asks if she'll be missed as much as Caroline, and her mother tells her she'll be missed even more.
  • This, of course, is all Louise needs to hear. It's all she's ever needed to hear.

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