Conditions at Lowood remain harsh. On weekly Sunday walks to Mr. Brocklehurst's church, the poorly-clothed girls suffer exposure to frigid weather. They are constantly cold and underfed. In sympathy, Jane gives most of her small meals to other starving girls.
Mr. Brocklehurst's type of religion is cold and lifeless. His "charity" is literally killing the girls he is supposed to teach and nourish. In contrast, Jane nourishes others even when she herself is underfed.
One day, Mr. Brocklehurst, who is rarely present at the school itself, visits Lowood with his rich, well-dressed relatives. In front of the school, he reemphasizes the rules of his harsh educational program to Ms. Temple, who had been bending the rules out of kindness to the girls. She fumes in silence. On seeing a girl's curly red hair, he demands that all the girls' hair be cut off for the sake of modesty.
Mr. Brocklehurst enjoys wealth and comforts while the girls suffer. He would "starve the body to save the soul," but doesn't practice what he preaches. The haircuts show how the girls are denied their feelings and individuality. Ms. Temple fumes silently because, as a female teacher, she has no real power.
Jane is terrified that Mr. Brocklehurst will remember his promise to Mrs. Reed to tell all the teachers that Jane is a liar. Jane is so nervous that she accidentally drops her chalk slate during his visit. Mr. Brocklehurst then makes her stand on a high stool in front of everyone, says that Jane is deceitful, and tells all the students and teachers to avoid her.
Jane is concerned that her new friends, Helen and Ms. Temple, will reject her because of Mrs. Reed's lies. She does not yet understand the deeper bonds of friendship and love.
Jane is devastated, but takes heart from Helen Burns, who smiles at Jane every time she passes by.
Drawing strength from Helen's approval, Jane learns to endure.