Gideon is the foreman on the Pope Plantation. Although Gideon is not a slave, little has changed on the Pope Plantation. Gideon keeps his head down and keeps the migrant workers picking cotton. When Enoch Pope’s sons Bobby and Earl come home drunk one night they decide to go from some migrant girl to fulfill their fleshly desires. Gideon wanted to step in and stop the boys but he knew that would have meant serious trouble for him. Gideon started to see lights coming from the swamp and decided it was time to go to bed.
Desdemona is Gideon’s grandmother. She has lived in the swamp off of the Pope Plantation for a long time. She has often been called a witch, and for good reason. She is a healer. Gideon probably would have left the plantation if not for his grandmother.
In this book, you learn of Gideon’s grandfather. He was a white preach who came down from Random, Illinois. He came down to Old Mill, NC a little too soon after the Civil War and folks still treated the workers as slaves and really didn’t like that a white man built them a church and even married one of them. After an altercation with the elder Gideon’s son and Bart Pope, the then Pope’s come for retribution. The church gets burned down and Gideon dies. Fast forward some years.
Fast forward some years. Enoch Pope who is the father of Bobby and Earl was a child when the church was burned down. He did not carry the same hatred of blacks that the rest of his family did. He always looked out for the young Gideon who was the foreman for the now failing plantation. Enoch is old and tired. He has let his boys run rampant and when the killed the migrant girl all hell breaks loose. Desdemona warns Gideon because there is a force coming that she can no longer hold back.