Caleb’s Crossing Part 2 Summary & Analysis

Geraldine Brooks

Caleb’s Crossing

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Caleb’s Crossing Part 2 Summary & Analysis

Part 2: Anno 1661 Aetatis Suae 17 Cambridge

Chapter I Summary

Bethia informs us that some time has passed since she has written and that she is now doing so reluctantly. Her dire present situation is what leads her to make a record. For one thing, she is overwhelmed by thoughts of her mother, who we know died but whom Bethia discussed little during the events of the previous chapter, when her mother’s death was still quite fresh in her mind.

As it turns out, Bethia is apparently now in Cambridge at the school of Master Corlett. She relates that though her position is difficult and deprived, she at least has much paper for writing because the master discards so much partially-used paper. Bethia is in a position to recognize that this paper is a valuable resource, since she is not freely allowed paper as a woman.

She revisits the time of Caleb’s arrival at her home. Of course, her father had no idea about her previous acquaintance with Caleb. He believed that he recruited this young convert via Nahnoso. Bethia’s father is taking a risk in this venture of educating Caleb because it could potentially anger the more xenophobic inhabitants of the settlement. Indeed, he does not inform the others prior to bringing Caleb to his home.

Caleb arrives dressed in settler’s garb. Bethia’s family makes a bold statement by having him sit with them in a prominent place during their worship service. The Aldens hope to challenge Bethia’s father on this issue, but he has a clever stratagem: he asks the eldest Alden to read a passage from the Bible, which turns out to be about welcoming strangers. He also employs the story of the Good Samaritan. For the time being, the Aldens are neutralized as a threat to Bethia’s family.

Chapter II Summary

Bethia wakes up on the morning after Caleb’s arrival and sets about her chores. She reflects that she has changed because of the guilt she feels after her mother’s death. After all, she feels that God is punishing her for her secret friendship with Caleb. So, she keeps to the…

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