It's now 1939 and 17 year-old Alex returns to home to Elizabeth City from college. He's also there to tell his father that he's not on leave to conduct a research paper but has in fact quit school. Simon has re-married since Bertha died and Alex has some difficulty with that, all the more so when he realizes that his step-mother is pregnant. Simon has high hopes for his son and firmly believes in education as they to improve your lot in life. Deciding to compromise, Simon decides he should join the army but Alex agrees to join the US Coast Guard. Like many other blacks in the segregated military, he finds himself relegated to the kitchen serving as a steward, making beds and shining shoes and silver. Out on liberty, Alex meets Nan Branch at a church dance. With the onset of World War II, they are married but his father disapproves. They soon have a daughter and with wars end, Simon stills holds out some hope that Alex will return to college. Alex decides he likes writing but opts to re-enlist until he can decide on his future. He also realizes that little has changed when he's refused a room at a string of motels while moving to New York for his latest assignment. His new superior officer, Commander Robert Monroe, decides to help him out with his writing. He also suggests that Alex write about about those things that stir his passions.- Written by garykmcd
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