We can ast for comfort and hope and patience and courage . . . and we’ll git what we ast for. They ain’t no gar’ntee thet we ain’t go’n have no troubles and ain’t go’n die. But shore as frogs croak and cows bellow, God’ll forgive us if’n we ast Him to.

Rucker speaks these words on his deathbed in Chapter 48, revealing the answer to the novel’s most persistent question. When Will first encounters death and heartbreak, he wonders how such things can exist in a world created by a just God. As Rucker begins to die, he reveals the answer he has come up with: God does not give material things that the prayerful seek, but he does give strength. Although he does not articulate it until now, this belief motivates Rucker’s life. He never avoids confrontation or asks for relief from adversity. Instead, Rucker confronts his problems and realizes that although some trouble is inevitable, trouble does not prevent a happy life. Will understands Rucker’s philosophy because Will has gotten past the deaths of loved ones and the failure of his relationship with Lightfoot. Will understands now that such sad occurrences should be recognized, dealt with, and laid to rest, not bemoaned or wished away.