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Book Five. Exodus
Orleanna Price: Sanderling Island, Georgia.
Orleanna explains how she left the Congo. She felt a drive to keep moving as if she could keep grief from overtaking her if she simply stayed ahead of it. Thus, she had worked without stopping to prepare Ruth May for burial. When that was finished, she looked at all the things they had brought with them from Georgia and realized how useless everything was and that she no longer needed any of it. In giving it all away, it seemed as if she was giving up the burdens that life in the Congo had brought to her.
When there was nothing else to do in the house or for Ruth May, she began walking. She ordered her remaining children to follow and determined that she would leave the Congo even though she had to walk to do so. She says she did not actually intend to leave Nathan even if she should have. She simply started walking and he stayed behind.
Orleanna addresses Ruth May in her story telling. She has hinted at having a purpose and an unnamed audience in previous sections, but now she clearly speaks to "the eyes in the trees," the "burial mound in Nathanís garden," "my own flesh and blood, my last born." She struggles for forgiveness, blaming herself for all the tragedies of their lives. Her guilt is not only for the lives and tragedies of her family in the Congo, but also over her inability to let go of Ruth May. She thinks that her need for forgiveness and her eternal grieving is keeping the spirit of Ruth May with her.