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The next day, Aunt Hannah washes Rufus and Catherine carefully and dresses them in their Sunday best. Father Jackson calls on the phone, and Hannah gives him directions to the house. Then Hannah brings the children into Mary's room. Mary hugs them and apologizes for not spending more time with them over the past few days. She explains that they are about to see their father one last time. She explains again that he can never come back, and this time Catherine seems to understand.

Rufus then asks their mother if he and Catherine are orphans. Mary explains that they are not orphans, as they still have one parent whereas orphans have no parents at all. Then she sends them downstairs. Rufus thinks about what his mother told him, and he decides that since he and Catherine are both half-orphans, that the two of them together make one whole orphan.

Then they hear the doorbell ring; Father Jackson has arrived. He comes in without telling the children who he is, and then Hannah comes into the room to welcome him. She asks Father Jackson to give her a moment, and she tells Rufus and Catherine to show him into the sitting room. They stand looking at the priest, who stares back at them in an unfriendly manner. Finally he tells them that children should not stare at their elders, because it is "ill-bred" behavior. Father Jackson lectures them about being ladies and gentlemen in a harsh way, using words the children do not understand. Then Hannah comes downstairs, at which time the priest leaves the room and follows her upstairs.

Rufus and Catherine hear Hannah and Father Jackson go into their mother's room. The children sneak upstairs and listen at the door, able only to hear the sound of the voices, not what is actually said. Father Jackson's voice always sounds louder and "rang with the knowledge that it was right"; both Hannah and Mary's voices are softer. The children do not know what is going on, but they feel that "it was something evil, to which she was submitting almost without a struggle, and by which she was deceived." Catherine and Rufus each have fantasies of Father Jackson being killed. Then the tone of the priest's voice changes into a more rhythmic, pleasant tone, and Rufus realizes that he is praying. The sound of the prayers lulls the children into a reverie until the doorbell rings.

The children run downstairs so no one will catch them eavesdropping, and they scurry into the sitting room. Aunt Hannah answers the door; it is Walter Starr. He comes in and pats the children and goes to wait with them in the sitting room until Mary is ready. Walter avoids sitting in Jay's chair. He tells Rufus and Catherine that he has a gramophone, a box that can play music, and he tells the children they should pay him a visit and listen to it. Then he tells them that their father worked hard for everything he had, and that he was a brave, kind, and generous man. Walter tells the children that he did not know their father as well as he would have liked, but that he thinks he is one of the "finest men that ever lived." The children are touched by his words, and they move closer to him. Then they hear a door open upstairs.


In this chapter, Agee presents religion not only as something foreign and difficult, but also as something threatening and mean. Father Jackson displays absolutely no sympathy to the children, and he says nothing to them beyond chiding them for standing and looking at him. He seems to think that their motives are evil. The children look at him, bewildered and hurt by his words even though they cannot understand all of what he says. Since Father Jackson, as a priest, clearly represents religion, and since Aunt Hannah and Mary accept religion without question, the children understandably worry about what Father Jackson says when he goes into Mary's room with Aunt Hannah.