Summary and Analysis Chapter 38



Upon returning home to Boston, Linda learns that Ben has left on a whaling voyage to escape the abuse of his fellow apprentices, who have discovered that he is "colored." Heartbroken, Linda chides herself for having left her children alone for so long, but reminds herself that it was for the best.

Soon after her return, Linda receives a letter from Mrs. Dodge (formerly Emily Flint). In the letter, Emily comments on Linda's trip to England and invites her to come live with her and her new husband in Norfolk, Virginia. Although Linda is furious to discover that Dr. Flint and his family are still keeping track of her, she tells herself that as long as she stays in Boston, she is safe.


In this chapter, Linda is forced to make some difficult decisions as she fights to keep her family together, including coming to terms with her son's decision to "pass" as a white man.

By attempting to appear white, Ben is following in the footsteps of his namesake, Linda's Uncle Benjamin, who became lost to his family. This causes Linda to experience the same anguish her grandmother did when her son decided to "pass."