Study Guide

Light in August Chapter 18

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Chapter 18

  • Downtown, the grand jury convenes to decide Christmas's fate.
  • Byron swings by Mrs. Beard's boardinghouse where he lived, in order to pick up his things. He's preparing to start a new life in a new town.
  • Byron meets up with the sheriff and tells him Lena and Joe Brown's story, convincing him to take Joe Brown to see his newborn child in the Burden cabin. The sheriff agrees.
  • Byron spies as the police take Joe Brown to the cabin. He then mounts his mule and starts heading out of Jefferson. From a hilltop, Byron happens to look down to see Joe Brown jump through the window of the cabin and begin to run.
  • Byron turns the mule around and starts to chase him.
  • Now the narration moves to Brown's perspective.
  • Inside the cabin and face-to-face with Lena, Brown becomes anxious, irritated, and scared. He lies to Lena, telling her that he sent for her and that he's glad to see her. He says that once he receives his reward for turning in Christmas, they'll be able to start a life together.
  • This is all a ruse, of course, and the first chance he gets, Brown jumps through the cabin window and flees.
  • Brown comes upon a black cabin and asks a young black boy to take a message to the sheriff: he wants the sheriff to give the boy his $1,000 reward, which the boy will then give to him.
  • Byron catches up with Brown and provokes him into fighting, even though Byron knows he doesn't stand a chance since Brown is bigger than him.
  • Brown indeed wins the fight near some railroad tracks, just as a train is passing by. Brown jumps on the train and is never heard from again.
  • Byron catches a ride with a man in a wagon who tells him that Christmas escaped from police custody and was later murdered.

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