Study Guide

M.C. Higgins, the Great Chapter 5

By Virginia Hamilton

Chapter 5

  • M.C.'s still thinking on his memory of his mother and his birthday, when he sees something flash in the distance.
  • He figures that it has to be the girl due to the location of the glinting, so he climbs to the top of his pole with a mop and matches.
  • He burns the mop head and yodels what basically amounts to a catcall.
  • He hears something beneath him, but it's only Ben.
  • Ben saw the burning mop and heard the yell, but he's not the one who gave off that flash M.C. saw.
  • So M.C. heads into the woods to find that girl; Ben tags along.
  • The whole thing is like a hunt to him.
  • In fact, he can't help but remember the time he hunted down and then killed a possum.
  • But the girl ends up surprising him, and she even gets in a good kick to his head.
  • M.C. plays possum, which works because the girl thinks she's seriously injured him.
  • He catches her off-guard and swings her on top of him; then he kisses her. (At least he doesn't kill her like that possum…)
  • She's really not into that kiss and throws her light at him, but he has his knife to her back.
  • He stops himself from slashing her and, instead, just nicks her.
  • In pain, the girl runs away while screaming that she'll cut M.C.'s heart out if he comes near her again.
  • M.C.'s bothered by all of this because it's not like he wanted to hurt her—he was just playing—but she was ready to kill him…
  • All of a sudden, Jones and Banina surround M.C.
  • Like typical parents, they want to know what's going on because they heard all the screaming.
  • M.C. lies and tells them he ran into a stranger—some guy—and got into a small fight.
  • The parents are worried, but M.C. bounces back and tells him he'll lead the way home.
  • Jones says he will instead.
  • So M.C. and Banina get a chance to talk about the Dude and how he's going to take Banina away.
  • He also tells Banina about the spoil heap sliding and how they need to leave.
  • But Banina's backing Jones.
  • She says that M.C.'s pole isn't just for him.
  • M.C.'s confused and has no clue what she means, so Banina explains that Jones won't leave because that pole marks the burial ground of all their dead ancestors.
  • Yep—M.C.'s pole is a monument to all the dead beneath him.
  • M.C. gets why his dad can't leave all of a sudden, and realizes he has to figure out a way to get his dad to leave the past behind. Sigh.
  • They all walk back to the house, with M.C. stalking just like his dad.

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