As when Paul left home for Macon and Robert for Savannah, Paul's geographical location reflects his emotional state of being. In east Texas, Paul is less constrained by the weight of his past and the traditions in which he grew up. Thus, he acts decisively and boldly in the face of his father's stern authority and the high-risk opportunity Sutcliffe offers him. After the fateful race, when the break with his family is final, Paul envisions the wild lands of the west, which are untainted by the shameful, heavy history of slavery. However, this escape does not occur. Instead, the gray-haired woman offers him a job in the southeast, and the train he boards draws him back toward the land of his childhood. Though Paul may be able to break some of his ties to white authority, the geographical motion of the novel suggests he cannot completely escape the legacy of the south.