Study Guide

Jacob Have I Loved Chapter 3

By Katherine Paterson

Chapter 3

  • December 7, 1941, was a Sunday, and Caroline and Louise are supposed to be observing the Sabbath when news that Pearl Harbor has been attacked comes through the radio.
  • Louise's parents aren't even mad that she switched on the radio on a Sunday. Her mother, father, and Caroline all sit around the radio listening to the announcer explain what's happened. They all understand that this means war.
  • In school that week, the kids learn that Mr. Rice will be heading off to war—yikes—which gives Louise the idea that maybe they should cancel Christmas. You know, on account of all the people suffering because of the war. It just doesn't seem right to celebrate.
  • Mr. Rice doesn't see it this way, though: as far as he's concerned, people were suffering when Jesus was born, too, so why put off honoring his birthday?
  • The kids in class are pretty amused at the suggestion, too, so everyone starts to snicker at Louise. Mr. Rice just moves on with class.
  • Louise is livid. She knows that she's right and can't understand why everyone thought her idea was so weak. Mr. Rice didn't even try to see her point of view.
  • After school, Louise stops on the way home to have herself a good cry over the whole episode. Then, of course, Caroline shows up to tell her that dinner is ready.
  • That night is the school concert. Betty Jean Boyd sings the solo on "O Holy Night" and does just fine, but then it's Caroline's turn to sing.
  • Even Louise, who gets so annoyed with Caroline, can't help but be overtaken by the power of Caroline's voice—it's so beautiful and effortless. Everyone in town is thrilled.
  • Back at home, the family tells Grandma about the night's events. Grandma doesn't know why Mr. Rice would give Betty Jean Boyd a solo; she can't sing like beautiful, lovely Caroline. Then, Caroline treats them all to her impression of Betty Jean Boyd while mocking her singing.
  • Louise has the sudden urge to punch her sister in the face. We're with you, Louise.
  • That night in bed, Louise thinks about her life and how no one ever notices her. Caroline is always the center of attention.
  • She imagines that one day, Caroline will have to bow down to her, like Joseph's brothers from the Bible. Caroline will start to call her by the nickname Wheeze, and then Louise will correct her: her name is Sara Louise Bradshaw, thank you very much.

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