Study Guide

The River Between Us Chapter 2

By Richard Peck

Chapter 2

The House Astride the Devil's Backbone: 1861

  • Imagine those wavy lines on late-20th century sitcoms that indicate a flashback is about to happen. With only the heading above for warning, Tilly Pruitt takes over the narration, and she's not about to give it up anytime soon.
  • Tilly takes us back to April 1861, shortly after Abraham Lincoln is elected president. All over the Southern Illinois town of Grand Tower, boys are taking sides and drilling in preparation for military service for the North or the South. (Spoiler alert: the Civil War is coming.)
  • Tilly's more immediate problem, though, is her sister Cass, who has visions—and not of sugarplums.
  • Mama sends Tilly out to round up Cass, who is sitting on a rock overlooking the river. Her regularly scheduled visions of tragedies that happened hundreds of years ago have been interrupted by visions of things that haven't happened yet, specifically boys in blue and gray torn to pieces by war.
  • Perhaps this is needless to say, but Cass is in bad shape.
  • On the way home, the girls run into their brother, Noah, Tilly's twin, who's on his way home from drilling practice for the North.
  • Cass takes one look at Noah and bursts into tears. If we know anything about foreshadowing, we know things aren't looking good for Noah.