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Chapter Seventeen

Chapter seventeen opens in 1928. Both Rachel and Kenji are doing better than most residents in terms of the progression of their leprosy. At times Rachel finds it difficult to walk, and Kenji has had surgery on his eyelid. Kenji manages the Kalaupapa Store, and Rachel helps him, except on Thursdays when she works at Bishop Home.

Kenji used to send money home to repay the cost of his college education, but he stopped after years of no acknowledgment from his family. When he had to go to Oahu for surgery, his family did not visit, and upon his return he declared that Kalaupapa was home, not Oahu with the people that had forgotten him.

Bishop Home is falling apart due to age and lack of repair. Catherine, at age fifty-six, does the best she can. Mother Marianne died ten years ago, as did Henry.


Rachel is constantly aware of the age of her lost daughter Ruth. She buys her birthday presents every year, wraps them, and puts them away even though she may never be able to deliver them.

Rachel meets Lawrence McCully Judd, a Territorial Senator. He has come to inspect Kalaupapa. Rachel shows him several aspects of the settlement that need improvement. Judd promises to try to help.

Catherine returns to New York for a vacation with her brother's family. Despite having a wonderful time and being invited to stay by her brother's family, she decides to return to Moloka'i.