I don't want you to think, Andy Catlett, that I dwelt on the subject of Ivy. I didn't. I had a plenty else to think about. I was a grown woman...I had a good life, and I knew it. But I was not forgetting Ivy, either. From time to time, too often maybe, I thought of her, and when I thought of her I thought of the broach and earrings that she did not deserve and was unworthy to wear. That thought, when I had it on my mind, was like a grain of corn in my shoe.
Isn't that a wonderful word-picture of bitterness?
...like a grain of corn in my shoe.That little grain of corn is only bothering Hannah, only serving to remind her how much she resents Ivy. Every step she takes with that little grain of corn in her shoe is a recitation of Ivy's guilt. And while it's painful for Hannah, she's become used to it, it's a familiar feeling. It's the only feeling she knows toward this woman who dealt her so many injustices.
And then one afternoon, when the thought of Ivy was miles away, I met her.
She was wearing a head scarf and a dress that hung on her as it would have hung on a chair. She was shrunken and twisted by arthritis and was leaning on two canes. Her hands were so knotted as hardly to look like hands. She was smiling at me. She said, "You don't know me, do you?"
This is brilliant, isn't it? Up until this point Hannah has not known Ivy. She has only known the effects of Ivy. She has only known the pain and injustice dealt by Ivy. Ivy in her selfish prime, as Hannah had experienced her, masked a person, like herself, in need of grace.
I knew her then, and almost instantly there were tears on my face...All kinds of knowledge came to me, all in a sort of flare in my mind. I knew for one thing that she was more simpleminded than I had ever thought. She had perfectly forgot, or had never known, how much and how justly I had resented her. But I knew at the same instant that my resentment was gone, just gone. And the fear of her that was once so big in me, where was it? And who was this poor sufferer who stood there with me?Excuse me while I wipe my eyes and blow my nose.
"Yes, Ivy, I know you," I said, and I sounded kind.
Hannah ends the chapter realizing that she has forgiven Ivy.
I didn't understand exactly what had happened until the thought of her woke me up in the middle of that night, and I was saying to myself, "You have forgiven her."
I had. My old hatred and contempt and fear, that I had kept so carefully so long, were gone, and I was free.
In this very short chapter we are served the most delicious and satisfying of meals: a complete picture of forgiveness. With eyes to see Ivy, finally, as a fellow sufferer, Hannah takes the piece of corn out of her shoe. She acknowledges her role of carefully tending her hatred of Ivy all these years. She realizes forgiveness does not have to wait for an apology.
Did you notice Hannah is telling this particular memory to Andy Catlett?
Did you find this, as I did, a compelling picture of forgiveness? Did it hit the mark or miss for you?
I'm wondering if there's more to know about Ivy. Port William experts: does she make an appearance in the other novels?
See you in the comments.