chapter 7 summary

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in the hopes of assuaging his anxieties, obie visits a massage therapist. ahiro, the therapist, tells him to relax, but obie realizes that he can’t possibly relax, because velma can’t relax. when ahiro says something about pressure points, obie immediately begins to muse on the pressure points of the united states, of the system he and the other activists have begun to overhaul. ahiro shushes him, insisting that he stop talking.

velma, obie reflects, has become increasingly paranoid and mysterious. she asks him to check the closet and corners for unnamed threats before she can go to bed, and has started seeing a new prayer partner named jamahl. unsure what to make of this change, obie even followed her to the store once, thinking he might catch her cheating on him. perplexed, he saw that she was only buying groceries. ahiro tells obie what he really needs: a good cry. obie is resistant, but ahiro insists. soon, he is encouraging obie to do crying-inducing breathing exercises.

en route to the infirmary, fred holt passes by the regal theatre and observes a dance class. the teacher is urging the women in class to “remember”—not the lesson, she encourages, but the movements centered in them long ago by their ancestors. the music from the theater drifts toward the infirmary, blending with minnie ransom’s own.

in the infirmary, minnie coaxes velma to talk by miming long, graceful hand movements from her own mouth. velma’s body tightens inside her shawl as her interior journey continues. she drifts through more of her memories: praying with jamahl under a pyramid, visiting the marshes as though drawn by a force outside herself and having a transformative experience.

a few blocks away, a young man named campbell pays his landlady and promises to put her in his next article.

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