The next morning, Ginny cleans the house from top to bottom. In the middle of her work, Jess pays her a visit and asks her to go for a walk with him. Ginny agrees, reluctantly, and they walk to a shady spot under a big tree in the local dump (i.e., the place where farmers throw their trash when they can’t afford the local landfill).
Ginny and Jess’s interactions become increasingly illicit: here, for example, they’re sneaking off together. Appropriately, the place where they sneak off to is isolated and altogether unlike anywhere else in the community; they’re coming as close as possible to escaping the farm without actually leaving it.
In the dump, Jess cheerfully points out different species of flowers and snakes to Ginny. Suddenly, he asks Ginny who Larry’s favorite child was: Ginny immediately replies that it’s always been Caroline. Ginny then asks Jess who Harold’s favorite child is, and he replies, “Me.” Jess notes that Harold is always suspicious of Loren for trying to “take over.” Nevertheless, Loren and Harold are very alike in temperament, and Harold seems to know it.
Jess, as always, is quick to bring up sensitive subjects, such as family loyalties. The passage further reinforces the idea that Jess may be putting on several acts at once—and one of them involves making himself the “favorite,” thus inheriting more land and money from his father. Also notice that Jess talks about flowers and snakes—perhaps symbolizing the two sides of his character, one innocent, one evil.
Jess tells Ginny that sometimes he’s afraid that after his father dies, he’ll end up living on the farm with his brother, sad and lonely forever. Ginny urges Jess to wait for “something concrete” to happen before he starts worrying. Jess says that Ginny has calmed him down, and thanks her. Abruptly, he kisses her, and Ginny, in spite of herself, realizes that she’s been waiting to kiss him for a very long time.
Jess seems lonely and desperate: after many years of trying to survive in the world on his own (which, in a material sense, he succeeded in doing), he’s come back home. The farmland isn’t so easy to escape: even if Jess isn’t financially dependent on his father, farming is in his blood. Ginny has clearly been attracted to Jess for a while, and this kiss begins the more dramatic action of the novel. (It also once again parallels King Lear, in which Edmund has an affair with both Goneril and Regan.)