Maybe his mother would drag Sounder out of the road. . . . Maybe if she laid him on the porch and put some soft rags under him tonight, he might rise from the dead, like Lazarus did in a meetin'-house story. Maybe his father didn't know Sounder was dead. Maybe his father was dead in the back of the sheriff's wagon now. Maybe his father had said it hurt to bounce over the rough road on his back, and the deputy had turned around on the seat and shot him."" At the still center of the hurt and sorrow is the boy, searching roadside prison camps for his father season after season, collecting discarded newspapers to practice reading, until he encounters an elderly black teacher conversant with Montaigne (author of the book the boy's picked up) and cognizant of the boy's needs. The dog had returned crippled after many weeks; after many years his father returns similarly shattered. With this symbolic resemblance, the story--which had lost some of its clear, hard centrality in unburdening itself symbiotically on the teacher--loses its glancing integrity also; it was enough to know the man and dog to know their kinship, and natural to believe in them as the boy did. Here empathy gives way to sympathy--but the beginning is arresting, the circumstances immutable.