PINE HOUSE is a plantation built by Leonard Nicholson a decade before the outbreak of the Civil War. He brings his wife, Martha, against her wishes, into Stokes County, North Carolina and creates a... More > typical slave-based plantation of the upper South.
In the war, they lose their only son, and by emancipation, they lose half their wealth in the form of the ownership of their slave labor force. Leonard, who has suppressed his own guilt at depriving other human beings of their freedom as the price of slavery, must now reconstruct his plantation on a new labor base. His former slaves must create a new society and find definition for freedom.
The struggle under reconstituted economic and social conditions, is a mutual contest of the former master and slave, who cannot hope to survive without each other. Each element of the struggle evolves out of the capriciousness of birth.
Judge Thomas Settle is the moral protagonist who challenges Leonard's conflicted sensitivity.< Less