Study Guide

M.C. Higgins, the Great Chapter 6

By Virginia Hamilton

Chapter 6

  • M.C. finds James Lewis waiting for them at the house.
  • It's dark and late, but he's going to try to record Banina's voice anyway.
  • Banina and Jones are kind of cold and distant to James; they're just not used to strangers or visitors.
  • Banina especially gives him a deep once-over to make sure he's legit.
  • James explains that he's only a collector, which Banina's fine with.
  • He starts recording, only Banina doesn't sing first… Jones does.
  • Then Banina comes in with songs so stunning and sad that James can't help but sit up a little straighter.
  • She keeps singing even after all the little kids nod off and go to bed—all the way until the tape runs out.
  • Then the adults start talking while M.C. sits by listening.
  • Banina tells James how all the kids and Jones were born on the mountain, but that she wasn't.
  • In fact, she comes from Boone, North Carolina and was living in Washington, D.C. when she met Jones (a truck driver back then).
  • It was just after World War II and times were fun, but they decided to move back to the mountain since Jones was having trouble finding jobs in D.C.
  • Or at least that's what she tells James—M.C. notes that not everything she says is true.
  • Eventually, they get to the topic of the spoil heap.
  • Things get tense, and Jones says he has a plan to deal with the spoil heap: When it slides down to edge of their yard, he's going to break up the heap and haul it to the gully.
  • At first, M.C. feels happy because he thinks his dad has a real plan for the heap.
  • But James gently interrupts this little fantasy and tells them he doesn't think the heap is just going to slide inch-by-inch—at some point, that thing's just going to come crashing down on them.
  • Jones is not happy to hear this. In fact, he stops speaking.
  • Then he gets up, which is more or less his way of saying that it's time for James to leave.
  • They all say bye to each other and James promises Banina that he'll do something with her music; he's not sure what yet, though.
  • James thanks M.C., too, in a worried and sad way.
  • After James leaves, M.C. goes to bed.
  • His mother checks in on him, but he's already deep into a dream.
  • In the dream, he's running ahead of his dad, who's trying to rope him in.

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