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Peace Like a River: (21 & 22) The Red Farm & Be Jubilant, My Feet October 18, 2006

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

We’ll be commenting on Chapters 21 and 22 here.


1. Danielle - October 19, 2006

I have to say I was surprised by the events at the end of “The Red Farm.” I shouldn’t have been. When Davy and Sara arrived, having left Japes, but knowing he was still alive, I immediately thought, “well won’t he follow them?” Japes is not the kind of guy to sit by and let Sara just leave. But I was so sad. I have to say, I haven’t cried reading a book for a long time, but I did in this one! And “Be Jubilant, My Feet” was a beautiful chapter!

2. anneswanson3 - October 19, 2006

I think I figured Davy would escape from Japes, and with Sara, but I did not think he would come back to the farm. I thought he might send a note to say he was away and not with that creep. But did he not know Japes would find him? Figure he went back to his home? I was a bit angry at Davy for being so naive.
Be Jubilant, My Feet” was a beautiful chapter.

” At that moment I had no notion of identity. Nor of burden. I laughed in the place of language.” p.300

As Ruben explored I felt like I was there with him.
I loved how joyful Jeremiah Land was. So happy, reassuring to Ruben.

” Lets run, he said. It’s true both of us were wild to go on. I tell you there is no one who compels as does the master of that country- although badly as I wanted to see him, Dad must’ve wanted to more, for he shot ahead like a man who sees all that pleases him most stacked beside finish. I could only be awed by his speed, which was no effort for him; indeed he held back so that we traveled together together…”

What a great description. So joyful indeed! He tells Ruben to take care of Swede, work for Roxanne…and as for Davy? He promises to see him again…soon…and off he went singing with the stream until he was out of sight!

3. Bethany - October 19, 2006

In the Red Farm Chapter this passage on page 292 stood out to me:

“One thing I wasn’t waiting for was a miracle.
I don’t like to admit it. Shouldn’t that be the last thing you release: the hope that the Lord God, touched in His heart by your particular impasse among all others, will reach down and do that work none else can accomplish-straighten the twist, clear the oozing sore, open the lungs? Who knew better than I that such holy stuff occurs? Wo had more reason to hope?
And yet regarding my own wasted passages it seemed a prospect I could no longer admit.”

Oh ouch!! I so feel Reuben on this one many times. Taking matters into my own hand and not being moved to pray for those miracles and pray like I believe they can still happen…pray with hope.

I liked the quote in The Red Farm Chapter on page 294 where Reuben comes to the conclusion that “Fair is whatever God wants to do.” Sounds about right.

I really loved the “Be Jubilant, My Feet” What an all around incredible chapter!!!!!!!! The descriptions I just loved all of it. I loved his description of the stream singing louder than ever. Then looking at what they thought were rivers and they were people. I love the whole part about Reuben and his father parting ways.

4. Chalene - October 19, 2006

I agree, I was very close to tears myself after reading Jerimiah had gotten shot. That was soo sad and devastating. I think it was more of the timing that he was killed than him actually passing away. The fact that he and his new bride and family had not only just moved into their very own brand new farm, but after having Davy home and staying up all night catching up, he is taken home to the Lord.
But, on the other hand, how merciful God was to allow Jerimiah that little bit of heaven on earth in that time spent with his lovely bride and ENTIRE family. still, it’s heartbreaking. Roxanna must have been a very strong woman to keep living life to it’s fullest – as you will later find out 😉 – instead of wallowing in her grief and letting life pass her by. I eny that in her. I think if that were me, I would lock myself in my closet and never come out (except to use the bathroom).

God willing I won’t actually do that if it does happen. The brevity of life is nothing to be suprised about and should be expected in the least. Yes, it’s sad to see someone go but, we will soon be with them for this life literally is short as a breath. I hope that I would be able to go on with my life, serving and loving God even more, enjoying the family that I have and even new family if it comes along.

5. heather - October 21, 2006

I could say “ditto” to the comments already left regarding these two chapters! I, too, was disappointed with Davy for coming straight to the farm. It just was so obvious that Jape was going to follow them! After all his careful (sickening!) grooming of Sara to be his wife, there was no way he’d let them go without a fight!

Regarding “The Red Farm”: I thought this was another chapter full of beautiful words and phrases, showcasing Enger’s command of language:

“The morning of our return Dad, looking like a man fed on strawberries and cream, asked about my breathing.” p. 290 Doesn’t that phrase epitomize contentment?

The whole description of the farm, which had once belonged to great-aunt Myrtle:

“In deepest January she’d given a tea for some neighboring widows, picking them up in her pristine Fairlane and dropping them off again before dark; back home she washed the dishes, read the Bible, wrote in firm script four thank-you letters and a grocery list, and died in her sleep, an end so satisfying it seems displaced in our age.” p. 290 (I love that “end so satisfying”)

” …the farm seemed a place of order and rest, as the homes of great-aunts often do.” p. 290

” …when we moved in it (the red farm) was a place to rest and to wait. Because we were waiting — all of us, I believe, though my sense of it may have been strongest … The infirm wait always, and know it.” p. 290 When you’re sick, you are waiting: waiting to feel better, waiting for things to take a turn for the worse, waiting to do all the things you could do before you fell ill. When you’re chronically ill, as in Reuben’s case, that sense of waiting has to be so much stronger. You have to wonder, does he sense himself waiting for death? For a miraculous healing? It’s so much more extreme.

I also loved the quote regarding Swede and the investigators who came asking questions. Reuben says Dad “demanded and enforced” their honesty, and “goodness knows what Swede might’ve sent those fellows chasing, for behind her eyes twitched every shade of herring.” p. 291.

I loved how he described Swede’s lack of forgiveness for Reuben — the type of forgiveness that’s only skin deep:

“Because this, you understand, was something else I was waiting for: Swede’s forgiveness. She wasn’t nasty, that wasn’t it…Instead it was as though she simply couldn’t think of anything to say to me…I was neither trustworthy nor interesting…I grew to expect the minimal response. Dad and Roxanna noticed, but what could they do? Swede bore no indignation, called no names. She answered questions. She passed the potatoes.” p. 291. I could so relate to that notion of going about, acting as if nothing’s wrong, appearing fine on the surface, “passing the potatoes,” and yet still harboring unforgiveness in my heart.

Next came that quote Bethany already mentioned regarding waiting for a miracle — like he said, that should be the last thing we release (hope that God will act on our behalf), and yet it is so often one of the first things to go.

To interject a little humor, in spite of the serious tone of this whole chapter, I did have to chuckle at the whole story about Holgren and his terrorizing of little booger-eating Henry with fearful stories of “adult booger-eaters shuffling through city dumps all over America, salvaging vegetables ignored by vermin.” p. 293.

“Fair is whatever God wants to do.” p. 294 As Bethany said, what a great conclusion!

We all love Roxanna, and Reuben’s musings as he describes Sara’s first glimpse of the farm and the family beautifully capture Roxanna’s character: “Sara stood out, clearly withholding expectation, one hand atop the car as though she might duck back in. How could she foresee the warmth awaiting? How predict the radiant comfort that was Roxanna’s gift?” p. 294

Enger makes great use of foreshadowing in this passage, where Davy is describing his and Sara’s escape from Jape: ” …and (we) motored on out of that frying pan, Davy said, the wicked old maxim evidently not worrying him at the time.” p. 295. If he only could have foreseen the fire he was about to step into!

Finally, that moment when the family finally had to say goodbye: ” …we cleared our throats and armored our hearts and stepped out into the sunrise.” p. 299. With my sisters all living far away from me now, I dread that moment, after a visit, when I (usually without success!) attempt to “armor my heart” against the emotions of saying goodbye.

6. heather - October 21, 2006

I almost feel like I can’t even comment on “Be Jubilant, My Feet”, because I want to quote the whole chapter! As you all have already mentioned, it is a beautifully written chapter, full of beautiful descriptions. I loved the quotes that Anne already mentioned. The title of this chapter summarizes well the sense of joy, the desire to run to find the master of this country. Here are a few of the other standouts for me:

“Here in the orchard I had a glimmering of origin: Adam, I thought. Only the bare word. It suggested nothing. It was but a pair of syllables that seemed to belong to me. They seemed part of what compelled me.” p. 301

“Is it fair to say that country is more real than ours? That its stone is harder, its water more drenching — that the weather itself is alert and not just background? Can you endure a witness to its tactile presence?” p. 303

Alluding to Jeremiah’s descriptions earlier in the book of being at war, and already having the victory before the battle is fought, is this description of the people: “I could see them on the march, pouring forth from vast distances: People like I’d seen everywhere and others like I’d not seen, whole tributaries of people with untamed faces you would fear as neighbors; and most were afoot, and a few were horseback, and many bore standards with emblems strange to me. And even these who were wild were singing a hymn that rose up to us on the mountain, and it was as though they marched in preparation for some imminent and joyous and sanctified war.” p. 303

And finally, Jeremiah’s parting instructions to Reuben:

“Take care of Swede.”
“Work for Roxanna.”
“Tell Davy.”

Jeremiah wants Reuben to “be a witness” to Davy regarding what he’s seen. He doesn’t tell Reuben to “testify” to the others, because they already believe. The one he’s concerned about is Davy, who wants to control his own destiny, exercise his own free will, and not be taken care of by God.

Reuben responds “Please,” meaning “but I want to go with you,” and Jeremiah says “Soon, he replied, which makes better sense under the rules of that country than ours. Very soon!”

7. bethany3boys - October 21, 2006

Heather I agree with you on the Jubilent Feet Chapter…there are too many good things in there. We just need to post the whole chapter hee hee.

Great points Chalene!!  I agree.

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