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Peace Like A River: (7&8) Late in the Night When The Fires Are Out and A Boy On A Horse October 3, 2006

Posted by Han in Peace Like A River by Leif Enger.

Here we will discuss chapters 7 and 8



1. Nicole - October 4, 2006

I really liked the role of the lawyer and his wife–the DeCuellars. They were the help the Land’s needed. They were the family that needed to adopt them. The description of coming to their house for breakfast was fun, you could almost taste that peach pie! 🙂 I also loved the part about Mr. DeCuellar playing with Swede and Rueben, right at their level.

Also, in these chapters I really see a time where Swede grows up a bit more and becomes a little more like the older sister. The way she views the trial, its with maturity, like she knows what’s going to happen. Rueben keeps looking to her for what she thinks is going to happen, I thought it was interesting. It also cracked me up when they hatched a plan to break Davy out and stole the steak knives. What a hoot!

2. Karen - October 5, 2006

The part in the trial where he realizes his brother had provoked the boys into coming into the house the night of the murder was gut wrenching. It’s so tough when you realize that your hero really isn’t so perfect as you thought.

Also the witness stand…I sat there once for a minor traffic accident case at 15 years old and it was terrifying! Imagining the thought process of a 9 year old boy thinking he is defending the honor of his brother and then, too late, realizing that he has handed him over to prison brings a pain to my heart. And he knows he has disappointed the lawyer who had been so kind and generous to the kids.

3. Ashleigh - October 5, 2006

I grow more and more impressed with Leif Enger’s writing with each page. During these two chapters I made quite a few notes, but will only touch on a few. Here goes …

On page 85, when Reuben finds out that Davy broke the windows in Israel’s car, he thinks back to how Davy had the Winchester in bed with him. He says, “Of course he’d taken it to bed. I saw it now. He knew they were coming. He’d issued them an invitation.” Immediately I thought back to earlier in the book (p. 25) when Jeremiah has a discussion with his kids about escalation and tells them that they will do “Nothing; of course nothing! What those fellows don’t realize is, we’ve already won. The victory is ours.” This really does speak of how Jeremiah’s trust was in what the Bible tells us — that vengence is the Lord’s.

The issue of pride and humility as it relates to Reuben on the witness stand was powerful. Love the quotes, “Pride is the rop God allows us all” (p. 89) and “I saw it happening but could not stop it. Humility came to me too late. I’m a living proverb; learn from me.”

Also, did anyone else want to chuckle at this passage on page 97 when Reuben says, “At this crossroads in his life he would in fact leave law enforcement to begin a new career as a school janitor over in Roofing. The district was hiring, you see.” For some reason, the line “The distric is hiring, you see” hit me funny. It seemed like a form of dry humor.

Lastly, it occured to me that while Jeremiah has been serving as a janitor, the love for knowledge and learning he once demonstrated in school is something he’s passed on to his children. I saw this in the kids pulling out books at the DeCuellars’ house.

4. Heather - October 5, 2006


I’m glad you brought up Enger’s wry comments that appear randomly! The comment re. Enger’s dry humor reminded me of a passage a few chapters back, which I also found funny:

p. 75 “Who wants to hear a story that’s nothing but misfortune? All the same, there’s a detail or two it’d be improper to leave out, and anyway Dad didn’t have a whole lot of himself invested in the janitorial field. You don’t have to worry about his self-respect, is what I’m saying, though you might light a candle for Mr. Holgren’s, if you are that sort of person.”

5. Heather - October 5, 2006


Their “break Davy out” plan reminded me of a twist on the classic “I’m going to run away” plan! So naive, yet so determined! And isn’t it true, at least in a child’s eyes, that the minute they get a plan all cooked up, the adults alter their routine and ruin the plan!

6. Heather - October 5, 2006

I always ache at the thought of a young person having to testify in court. I hate smarmy prosecutors who act like they are the witness’s best friend, though all the while they are getting ready to pounce! Kids don’t usually know how to walk the fence in terms of honesty — they usually tell either a bold-faced lie or the honest, painful truth. There aren’t many children who can analyze the truth and know how to couch their comments so that they come across the right way. (I’m sure all you moms out there have stories you could tell about your young kids’ honesty coming out at the worst moments!)

Even though Reuben is 11(?), and not likely to blurt out something embarrassing or inappropriate, it’s clear that he doesn’t realize until it’s too late how his own pride and demeanor made his truthful testimony sound even more condemning:

p. 92 “Elvis (that name cracks me up, by the way!) had asked me the question, and I was tied to honesty by oath. A person can’t regret honesty any more than other unavoidables — a plain face or a poor history. What I regret is how I said it: like your choice of stupid punks with something to prove. I said it with belligerence, a trait ever cultivated by fools. I said it, I tremble to admit, as Israel Finch might have. And predictably, chaos accompanied belligerence into office.”

7. Nicole - October 5, 2006

I also thought the part when Reuben realizes that Davy went and provoked those two boys was powerful and very sad.

8. bethany3boys - October 6, 2006

I too loved the quote on Humility that Ashleigh referenced. So true. And the court thing was so sad Nicole I was cringing reading it.

9. Karen - October 8, 2006

When he is waiting to go on the witness stand and tries psyching himself out in order to get sick was hysterical to me. The “astonishing puke” had me in tears. I know, I know, my sense of humor must be so sick. I just found this funny.

10. heather - October 9, 2006


I must be sick, too, because I also found that passage very funny! I’ve started putting a little “smiley face” in the margin whenever I read a funny passage — but this paragraph has a huge one!!! Doesn’t he describe it just like a young boy would? I love how he describes impact: “…hitting the basement tile with a sound zookeepers must hear sometimes, around the elephants.” Hysterical!

11. bethany3boys - October 9, 2006

Yes that one had me laughing my rear off too. SOOOO LIKE A BOY. So add me to the sick humor list. HEE HEE.

12. anneswanson3 - October 9, 2006

add me to the list too!

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