The morning after the party, Ginny goes to her father’s house, and finds Larry driving with his friend, Marv Carson, who works at the bank. Ginny proceeds to cook breakfast for Larry and Marv and serve it to them. As they eat, Marv speaks frankly about his self-control when it comes to dieting and exercising: he urinates 10 times a day, sweats copiously, and has regular bowel movements. Ginny marvels that Marv can say such things without any embarrassment.
One of the recurring images of the first part of the novel is the decay of the body. The land—Larry’s property—lives on, eternal and fertile, and yet individual people (their bodies) decay and die over time. Even mighty Larry, the legendary farmer who controls a thousand acres, will eventually die. The character of Marv corresponds to the Fool in King Lear, as here he shows the Fool’s characteristic frankness about uncomfortable topics.
Ginny thinks back to Rose’s decision to marry Pete. Ginny was impressed with Pete, since Pete was handsome and charming, as well as a talented musician who traveled the country performing in orchestras. Ginny can’t understand why Pete was attracted to Rose—Rose wasn’t smart or particularly beautiful. But Pete wanted to marry because he was tired of traveling. Over time, Ginny came to realize that Pete was actually an angry, abusive husband who beat Rose all the time. Shortly after breaking Rose’s arm, Pete stopped beating her. Pete and Larry always had a connection, rooted (Ginny feels) in their love for drinking. Back in the present, Larry tells Ginny to gather her sisters and their husbands so that they can all meet that evening.
Rose marries an outsider who has no real connection to the land. Rose, it would seem, is rebellious and eager for escape, hence her decision to marry a “stranger,” rather than someone Larry knows and trusts. And yet her plan backfires when Pete begins to hit her. At this point in the novel, the outsiders in the society are depicted as untrustworthy and deceptive. And yet there’s a sinister hint here that Larry accepts Pete’s abuse, suggesting, perhaps, that Larry has been abusive too, or that he at least has no problem with the patriarchal nature of his family and community.