This part is really interesting, but also super confusing, so just bear with me! So it starts with Annabelle Trice, she is the wife of Duncan Trice. She had an affair with Cass Mastern. When Duncan found out about sed affair, he took off his wedding ring and killed himself. It was ruled as an accident. He was cleaning his guns in his library and “accidentally” shot himself dead. (I think we all know it wasn’t an accident.) Then, Phebe, one of the Trice’s slaves, found Duncan’s ring and took it to Annabelle. Since Annabelle apparently couldn’t deal with Phoebe knowing what she had done, she sold her to a man in Paducah. Cass, the one Annabelle committed adultery with, was not happy with Annabelle’s decision, so he set out to find and set Phebe free, but he failed.
He later went on to free his slaves and become an abolitionist. He then enlisted as a private in the Confederate Army when the war came around, vowing to never kill an enemy soldier because he felt responsible for the death of his friend. He later died in a battle outside of Atlanta while he was on a search for Phebe.
Jack eventually gave up on trying to understand Cass Mastern’s odd behavior. After leaving the papers at the apartment, the landlady sent them to Jack. They remained unopened. He continued on with his life and they still remained unopened. The parcel began to yellow, and the name “Jack Burden” written on the top slowly faded.
Essentially, the story of Cass Mastern is the story of a man who commits an terrible sin, and realizes the rest of his life will be changed by that one action. Cass cannot forget the he had a part in Duncan Trice’s suicide, or Phebe being sold. His sense of responsibility from this situation makes him leave Annabelle, attempt to free Phebe,even though he failed, and to become an abolitionist in the South.
In my opinion, Jack doesn’t understand Cass Mastern’s motivations because he is not ready to confront the idea of responsibility. He wants to avoid in his past and “escape the present.”
New update Wednesday, January 30. XO-Ash 🙂