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Pigs in Heaven

Barbara Kingsolver

Chapters 18–20

Chapters 16–17

Chapters 18–20, page 2

page 1 of 2
Summary

Chapter 18: Natural Systems

Cash Stillwater is driving through Oklahoma, headed toward the Cherokee Nation, listening to a song about putting a wedding ring on the right women's hand. He is heading back to the Nation—his home—for good.

Meanwhile, Annawake wakes up one morning to find her baby niece curled under Annawake's quilt. Dellon comes in the room to retrieve the little girl, and tells Annawake that there will be another hog fry, to honor Cash's homecoming. Annawake figures out who Cash is, going through all relations in his family. He is the brother of Jesse Stillwater and Letty Hornbuckle, and is kin to Sugar Hornbuckle who was Annawake's mother's friend.

At home in Tucson, Jax is grieving over his situation. Lou Ann, Taylor's best friend, tries to convince him to snap out of it, with no success. After she leaves him, Jax looks out the window to see a mother coyote scare a dove away from its nest, and gobble down the eggs. Crying, he thinks that nature's morality is based only on success or failure, not on feeling.

Chapter 19: Chewing Bones

From a motel in Sacramento, Alice tries to find a number for her cousin Sugar. She finds eight different Hornbuckles living in Heaven, Oklahoma, and starts to call each of them. Meanwhile, Taylor notices that Turtle is anxious about Alice leaving. Taylor tells Alice of Jax's infidelity and Alice finally gets Sugar on the phone, and makes plans to go visit.

Meanwhile in Heaven, Letty and Sugar are cooking at the hog fry. Sugar tells Letty of the phone call, and ends up talking about her childhood in the South. Sugar thinks to herself that Letty is nosy Letty. Outside, the men of the community are frying pig parts in a huge pot. Sugar observes the scene around her, including the people from the tribe gathering together. Boma Mellowbug, a crazy, but wise old woman, points out the kolon, a bird, flying in the sky, making a noise like "chewing bones." He flies overhead when someone dies, but Boma says his flight is not always bad.

Chapter 20: The War of the Birds and the Bees

When Alice arrives in Heaven, she finds the small town run-down and pathetic. Sugar is showing her around, and explains to her that the Nation used to be much more prosperous, before the land was cut up into small allotments, and families were tricked into giving away the only land that belonged to them. Sugar politely avoids asking Alice what has brought her to the Nation, but asks about Harland and Taylor. She tells Alice that Heaven got its name from the water hole outside of town. On the walk back to Sugar's house, she finds "poke," leaves used for salad greens, growing by the road, and picks some to take home. The two women reminisce about old times growing up, and Sugar shows her a couple more town landmarks, such as an ostrich farm owned by a rich man and Boma Mellowbug's house. Mr. Green, who owns the ostrich farm, hates Boma, mostly because she keeps bees living in her roof. Sugar explains that they are "good bees if you love them, and Boma does."

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