Caroline was six when her mother died, Ginny remembers. She was an agreeable child who never bothered anyone, and Larry often said she was better than Rose or Ginny. Larry would ask Caroline to give him a kiss, and she’d oblige right away, whereas Rose and Ginny would hesitate.
Caroline has always been her father’s favorite child—although it’s interesting that he defines “good child” as the child who obeys him with the least hesitation. Also notice Ginny and Rose’s reluctance to show their father affection, foreshadowing the later events (and revealed memories) of the novel.
Rose and Ginny looked out for Caroline, their little sister. In high school, they made sure that Larry granted her more freedom than either of them had gotten: as a result, Caroline got to go to prom, dances, read fashion magazines, etc.
Rose and Ginny, in spite of their current estrangement from Caroline, always tried to protect her: selflessly, they made sure that Caroline’s life was better than their own. Notice that Larry seems to exert enormous force over his children’s freedom in general, and their sexual freedom in particular.
After driving Rose home, Ginny decides to call Caroline. She drives back to her home, past Larry’s house, and notices Larry sitting outside, very stiff and stone-faced. Afraid that her father has died, Ginny stops the car and drives back to ask Larry if he’s all right—Larry turns out to be alive. Ginny tells her father she visited Rose, and Larry says that if Rose were to die of her cancer, her children would be “Stuck”—a remark that Ginny doesn’t know how to respond to. Ginny invites Larry to her house for dinner, but Larry doesn’t respond, and Ginny leaves.
Ginny is haunted by the specter of her father: as he gets older and older, he remains intimidating, yet also reminds Ginny of a ghost. Larry seems keenly aware that his children are trapped in Zebulon: hence his observation that Rose’s children would be stuck if Rose died. Larry is curiously blasé about his daughter’s cancer, as if he can’t muster sympathy or compassion for her.
Rose calls Ginny later that evening and reports that she can see Larry from her house, watching Ty operate a tractor. She suspects that Larry and Ty have had a fight of some kind. After hanging up the phone, Ginny thinks about calling Caroline, but eventually talks herself into waiting until Sunday: if she hasn’t heard from Caroline by Sunday, she decides, she’ll call Caroline.
This passage gives a better sense for the physical space of the novel: Rose, Larry, and Ginny are so close to one another that Rose can actually see Larry from her house. Ginny may be deluding herself into believing that she should wait to talk to Caroline, because she’s really afraid to do so (again suggesting a guilty conscience).