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Chapter 7 exile and brute wandering Summary The days are becoming cooler and Inman is still walking, often having to ask his way. He runs into Veasey, the preacher he had left tied to a tree. The preacher had been beaten by the people of his town and is now wayfaring west. Ignoring Inman’s discouraging remarks, Veasey walks along with Inman.
They find an abandoned house surrounded by beehives. Inman gets them honey and honeycomb to eat. Later they see a huge catfish trapped in a narrow part of a creek. Veasey tries unsuccessfully to wrestle the fish from the creek. Inman shots the fish through the head and fries it up for the two of them. As they eat Inman explains what Veasey has “missed” by not serving in the war. He tells Veasey about the battle of the Crater at Petersburg, another gruesome slaughter in the war.
The next day they eat more off the fish and cook some to take along. At a country store on their way, Veasey starts trouble by threatening the shopkeeper with a stolen gun. Inman knocks Veasey down and carries him out of the store. They find a roadside inn where Veasey again starts trouble by drawing his gun. Inman is able to settle things and Veasey exits with the immense black whore over whom the conflict began.
Inman pays for a meal and a place to sleep. He ends up sharing a hayloft with a traveler named Odell who claims to be very wealthy. The two men drink together while Odell tells his story about falling in love with the slave, Lucinda, his father’s subsequent disapproval, and his search to find Lucinda after his father sold her off to someone in Mississippi. Odell tells of the horrors he’s seen in his travels, the savage punishment and murder of slaves.
Come morning, Inman leaves. Veasey catches up with him. Veasey is cut and bleeding but tells Inman that his night with the black whore was wonderfully memorable.
More and more Inman is recovering from the violent habits of war. Though the atrocities are still vivid in his mind, as exemplified by his retelling of the battle of the Crater, his own aggression has mellowed. Even the repugnant, vulgar Veasey does not move Inman to violence.