Then she said to me, "You know, Mitchell done thought the world of you, Paul- Edward. He said he done figured you his family." "Figured him the same," I said. "Y'all was good friends." "No," I said. "Not just friends. Brothers."
This passage is from the tenth chapter of the book, when Paul and Caroline pause and mourn Mitchell's death in the midst of their intensified struggles to hold onto Granger's forty acres. Paul and Mitchell have previously referred to each other as "family" and "brothers," but never as clearly and unequivocally as in this passage. In the first several chapters of the book, Paul defends his brothers and father to Mitchell, asserting that they would never betray him because they are "family." Although Paul loses his faith in his white family in subsequent chapters, he does not lose his faith in the unbreakable ties between humans. Paul learns to replace ties of blood kinship with ties of spiritual and/or racial kinship. Paul and Mitchell are, in a sense, truer brothers than Paul and Robert, as Paul and Mitchell have repeatedly risked their lives to protect each other.