Kira thinks about what to do, now that she knows the women of the village want her gone. She decides to return to her mother’s cott and begin to rebuild it, in the hope that seeing her at work will convince the women to let her stay.
Even when it seems unlikely that Kira will be allowed to live in the village, she remains optimistic. Instead of retreating into despair, Kira makes the best of a very bad situation.
Kira walks through her village to her cott. She notices Katrina's brother with his young son, Dan. Together, they’re pulling weeds, which have grown while he was away watching his dead wife and infant in the Field. Mar, his young daughter, plays in the dirt. Kira’s mother’s brother angrily slaps Dan for not holding a pole straight. As Kira walks by, none of them acknowledge her.
We get more reminders that Kira’s society is cold and cruel—even Kira’s close relatives (by our measure) don’t care about what happens to her. We also see how tykes are treated by the majority of the villagers—Kira, with her kindness to those who are unlike her, is an anomaly.
As Kira approaches her mother’s cott, she realizes that she’s very hungry. Nothing remains of the cott except black ashes and a small garden. She’s surprised to see a woman picking carrots from the garden, and yells at the woman to stop. The women laughs and walks away—Kira, with her deformed leg, is too slow to pursue her.
Not only is there no compassion in Kira’s community; there’s no respect for rules. Everyone knows that Kira, with her lameness, can’t protect her possessions. Here, a woman takes advantage of this fact.
Kira eats what remains of her garden—some dirty tubers. After her father died, Kira and Katrina were forced to survive almost entirely without meat. Instead, they ate fish from the nearby river and vegetables from their garden. Kira sees a pile of wood near her cott, and as she picks up a sapling, Vandara emerges from a nearby clearing where she’s been watching Kira. Kira doesn’t know if Vandara has a “hubby” or children, but she knows that Vandara is respected, or feared, in the village. She’s tall and strong, with a long scar that she’s said to have gotten from a fight with a forest “beast.” Children say that the fearsome animal attacked her while she was trying to steal an infant from another mother.
Although Kira’s life has been hard and challenging, it’s trained her to adapt to new situations. Thus, she moves past the theft of her carrots, and eats tubers instead. A healthier person, used to eating carrots or meat, would be distraught—Kira simply moves past her pain. Vandara’s hostility to Kira is clear: she’s ambushed Kira. We begin to learn more about the mysterious ”beasts” that populate the forest: although we’re not sure what they look like, it’s clear that they can do harm.
Vandara tells Kira that she’s lost her space; it belongs to the women now. Kira insists that the space is still her property. She reminds Vandara that it belonged to her father and her mother before her. Other women come out of their nearby cotts and tell Kira that they need the space to build a pen for tykes. Vandara tells Kira that she’s worthless because of her lame leg, and that she should have stayed in the Field with her dead mother. Kira notices that some of the women are carrying rocks. If even one of them throws a rock at her, the others will follow suit.
Kira argues that she should keep her space on the basis of family—it belonged to her parents. Vandara shows that she has no respect for the concept of family, both because she doesn’t listen to Kira’s argument, and because she wants to essentially keep her children, and other people’s children, in a pen, like livestock. Kira remains intelligent and observant even when she could lose her life.
Terrified of being pelted with rocks, Kira thinks about her mother and father’s spirits, which live on in her. She stands up straight and looks the surrounding women in their eyes. Most of them don’t look back at her. Kira reminds them of the rules: in a village conflict that might involve death, the parties must go to the Council of Guardians. If they do not, and someone dies, then the person who causes death must also die. When the women hear this, they quickly drop their rocks. Eventually, even Vandara drops hers. She tells Kira that tomorrow she will take her to the Council of Elders, who will no doubt cast Kira out of the village. She reminds everyone that she has survived her fight with wild beasts because of her strength, and then tells Kira that she’ll soon be sent among the wild beasts, too. The women nod and return to their cotts, leaving Kira alone by her ruined cott.
Kira derives inspiration from the memory of her parents. While it’s not clear exactly what the village means by “spirit,” the concept seems to suggest a combination of memory and love. Kira shows herself to be intelligent and quick-witted: she remembers the relevant law, saving her life. Vandara, by contrast, seems childish and petty by comparison. She boasts of her strength and courage, and tells Kira she’s going to die. Kira chooses her words carefully, while Vandara speaks even when no words are required. But perhaps this is how Vandara maintains power among the other women—she threatens other people with words, only rarely having to use actual force.
Kira doesn’t know if the Council of Guardians will let her live in the village or not. In the meantime, though, she decides to continue rebuilding her mother’s cott. She will go to Matthew, a carpenter and old friend of her mothers, and offer him her weaving in exchange for wood beams. She will also ask him for smaller pieces of wood, which she’ll use to build a threading frame. Kira has always been good with her hands, but in recent years, she’s become a creative, skillful weaver. She’s eager to continue with her weaving, assuming that she’s allowed to stay in the village.
Kira is hopeful, even when she faces death. In part, we see, her hope derives from her love for weaving. Without weaving to look forward to, it’s unlikely that she would go about planning her schedule and rebuilding her cott so diligently. The end of this chapter establishes a conflict between the desires of the artist and the desires of the community—this conflict will be very important in the novel.