Abra visits Lee, who is thrilled to see her and says that he wishes he were her father. Abra and Cal talk about the military and agree that Cal is not well suited to life as a soldier. Cal decides to take flowers to Cathy’s grave.

Summary: Chapter 54

Adam slowly starts to regain his health. When spring comes, Cal and Abra have a picnic in an azalea grove, where Abra takes Cal’s hand and tells him that he must never feel guilty about anything—not even about Aron. Lee looks through a seed catalogue and thinks of the garden he will plant in the spring.

A man comes to the door with a telegram announcing that Aron has been killed in the war. Lee, cursing Aron as a coward, enters Adam’s room to tell him the news of his son’s death.

Summary: Chapter 55

Adam has a stroke upon hearing the news and lies near death when Cal returns to the house. When Lee tells Cal what has happened, the boy is sick with grief and guilt. Cal goes to Abra, who does her best to comfort him. She takes him back to his house, where Lee tells Cal and Abra emphatically that they must always remember that they are in control of their lives and that they are not automatically doomed to repeat their parents’ mistakes.

Lee takes Cal and Abra to see the dying Adam. Lee tells Adam that Cal, in informing Aron about his mother, committed a grave sin out of hurt he felt when he believed that Adam did not love him. Lee asks Adam to bless Cal before he dies. As Cal gazes down at him, Adam, with great effort, mouths the single word timshel, and then his eyes close in sleep.

Analysis: Chapters 51–55

In the final chapters of the novel,the turnarounds that Cal and Aron experience become complete, as Cal embraces the idea of timshel and Aron finalizes his withdrawal from the world by enlisting in the Army. Lee, who is so often the voice of sense and reason in the novel, cements Aron’s estrangement from us and from the other characters when he calls Aron a “coward” upon learning of his death. By calling the upright Aron a coward, Lee indicates that he thinks the same way that Abra does—namely, that Aron has retreated into a fantasy world to avoid dealing with the hard moral choices and temptations of the world.