The Circumstance of Death
Sophronia Stennett, over sixty years old and poverty-stricken all her life, has recently died in a prison infirmary. Three of her children, who were assigned to foster homes when they were very young, have been called in to claim and bury the body. Only Sophronias daughter is willing to acknowledge kinship. Rowena makes contact with two of her brothers, Thurmond and Rodney, and with and aunt and uncle who also have had no contact with Sophronia for years.
A mystery surrounds the location of Sophronias youngest child, Dempsey, whom Sophronia kept in a cage on her porch most of his life.
Although the setting of the story is the heart of Appalachia, its themes are universal and demonstrate the oneness of human need and nature.