“I don’t pray, but I kiss the cross and I say good-bye. Then I walk into the swamp and the trees be so tall, it felt like a cathedral from a photograph, high arches, cool and deep and green. The water be warmer than it look. It feel good to the touch, so i step in, lower and lower, ignoring the moss and green scum on the surface. I drag my hands behind me and I start to feel so light. I start humming that song Father John be singing to Enola. It be soothing and I need that, so I be humming, then I be singing. ‘Would you be free from your passion and pride? There’s power in the blood, power in the blood.’ I lay back in the water like a baptism, and the swamp be dancing around my ears, little sounds like clinking glass, and it smell of earth and water, and it feel warm, like blood. ‘Come for a cleansing to Calvary’s tide; there’s wonderful power in the blood.'”
“The City takes. Well, if She want me, She can have me. Maybe then She leave Enola alone. I lie in the water and let the current carry me away” (Smith 305-306).
This scene is one of the most touching excerpts in the entire novel. In this passage, Smith effectively creates a powerful sense of poignancy. evokes a sentimental mood within the audience, and establishes a tranquil, unperturbed tone. At this point in the book, Fen has now “lost” Lydia’s baby girl, Enola, to Father John and has visited her parents’ old cottage to reflect her memories of them. The author implies that the protagonist, after losing her last loved one, basically succumbs to the City and is not really sure of what to do with herself. She does not have a motive to go anywhere, with no objectives to fulfill, like she had before when she was with Enola. This causes her to immerse her body and mind in the water and release all of her stress building inside, which is something that Fen had not had a chance to do throughout the entire novel. The author’s diction-words such as “soothing, warm, and light”- contribute to the tranquility of the setting and tone of the scene. Smith employs other imagery to add to the serenity of the swamp and forest, making this location be somewhat of a temporary haven to Fen. Smith utilities several similes: “The trees be so tall, it felt like a cathedral from a photograph, high arches, cool and deep and green” and “I lay back in the water like a baptism.” Comparing the foliage to a church allows readers to imagine the forest as colossal and open, a place that allows the character to finally relax and breathe. In addition, polysyndeton is evident when Fen expresses the trees are “cool and deep and green”. This deliberate use of excessive conjunctions leads to an effect of multiplicity and builds up the vividness of the imagery. Moreover, Smith implements personification -“The swamp be dancing around my ears” to make the water come to life and, again, make the surroundings more lively. Lastly, Fen’s decision to let the city “take” her is straightforward, and this matter-of-fact way is shown by the syntax of the last two lines: “The City takes. Well, if She want me, She can have me. Maybe then She leave Enola alone.” These succinct phrases illustrate Fen’s hardheadedness and how her emotions do not get the best of her. While Fen might let her feelings escape, Fen’s “surrender” creates a mood of melancholy within the audience, evoking sorrow for what the girl has been through and lost.