Study Guide

M.C. Higgins, the Great Chapter 3

By Virginia Hamilton

Chapter 3

  • M.C. calls the kids in from the lake.
  • He's feeling pretty good because he knows that James is coming back later to record his mother's voice.
  • Meanwhile, his siblings are crowding around his pole (M.C.'s still up at the top).
  • Now we're deep in M.C.'s head and he's thinking that his pole is awesome; it's got those pedals attached to it.
  • Plus, it's the only thing M.C.'s ever won, which is why it's so important that everyone "cherishes" M.C.'s pole like he does.
  • While he's up there, M.C. sees his father—Jones—biking home.
  • Memory time, Shmoopers: M.C. recalls a conversation between his father and him about his dad's job.
  • You see, Jones is a day laborer; he isn't part of a union and he can't work the crane.
  • M.C. wants to know why his dad can't just get a strip-mining machine, but Jones is way against that, and to him, a strip-mining machine is more like the devil than an actual machine.
  • M.C. returns to the present and slides off the pole.
  • He goes to his grape arbor and eats some grapes, which aren't sweet anymore.
  • That makes him get this uneasy thought: Is all the strip-mining poisoning his grapes?
  • Anyway, M.C. starts attaching a hose.
  • Why? Because his dad's coming around and M.C. is about to hose him.
  • He totally surprises his dad with a bunch of cold water, head to toe.
  • It's a game between the two of them, part of a lifetime of playing rough with each other.
  • M.C. thinks back to those times when he used to cry because he wasn't quick enough to slap away his father's hands.
  • His dad's into toughening up M.C.; this time, though, M.C.'s quicker.
  • He dodges all of Jones's blows until he tires Jones out.
  • Then Jones goes after M.C.'s pole.
  • M.C.'s not happy about that and says his dad's being unfair because Jones lost fair and square.
  • Jones admits that he lost and needs to pay M.C. a dollar (they bet money on their games).
  • He adds that he's going to tell M.C.'s mom about the trick M.C. pulled on him, but that kind of kills the mood of their game because neither of them really want to bother Banina. Banina's not around enough as it is.
  • Then, out of nowhere, Jones jumps on M.C. and makes M.C. almost cry.
  • The whole mood is really ruined now.
  • Jones tells M.C. he didn't mean to hurt M.C. and that M.C.'s being too sensitive, that M.C. goes around acting like he's "M.C. Higgins, the Great" (hey there, book title).
  • Jones reminds M.C. who's the real head honcho, and tells M.C. to wash him down with the hose (he's gross from working and biking).
  • His father's huge, which makes M.C. wonder what he'll be like when he grows up.
  • Afterward, M.C. heads into his room, which is actually part of the mountain (his father dug a cave into the mountain and—voila—a bedroom).
  • He's looking out at the rest of the family in the kitchen when he trances out.
  • He sees a shadow or shape in the forest that jumps on him; M.C. can't move.
  • Jones snaps M.C. out of the trance and gets M.C. to join them in the kitchen.
  • Macie, the little sister, points out that Jones and M.C. were fighting outside, which Jones refutes.
  • Then M.C. tells them that the Dude was there and that he's coming back in the evening.
  • They talk about how Banina's going to Chicago—no wait, Nashville, according to Jones—to make it big, and how the family will have to follow.
  • Or at least that's what he tries to get Jones to see.
  • But Jones doesn't think that's what needs to happen since Nashville isn't all that far from where they are.
  • M.C. goes out and climbs up his pole, while Jones gets ready for work again.
  • Jones tells M.C. to stay on the mountain and look after the kids while he's gone.
  • As M.C. watches him leave, he can't stop wondering about how he's going to convince his dad to move away.

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