The morning after Pete’s death, Rose comes to Ginny’s house and tells her that Pete has “drowned himself.” Ginny is stunned, not because of Pete’s death but because it’s the only time she’s ever seen Rose shaking.
As tragedy reaches the community, Rose and Ginny seem strangely removed from reality: it’s as if they’re so lost in the past and in their own desire for revenge that they can’t spare any more emotion for the present.
Still stunned, Ginny sits down and tries to wrap her head around Pete’s death. As she sits, Linda and Pammy wake up and greet Ginny, asking her to drive them to the pool for a swim. Ginny notes that it would be some time before she heard about Pete’s argument with Harold, or his heavy drinking.
Painfully, Linda and Pamela are innocently talking about swimming, just after their father has drowned. Then, Ginny doubles back to explain how ignorant she herself was of the truth at the time—her tone is rueful and melancholy, as if she wishes she could forget what she’s soon to learn.
Ginny thinks back to her mother’s death. She and her sisters were in school when they heard the news. They go through the rest of the day in a daze. The next morning they go to the funeral, and that night Caroline cries herself to sleep while Ginny stays up, silent. Back in the present, Ginny realizes that there’s absolutely nothing she can do for Linda and Pammy to make their lives easier now that Pete is dead.
Ginny and Rose have always struggled to express their emotions: their conflicted feelings for their own father are so repressed that they can’t express themselves in normal human ways. Caroline, spared from her father’s abuse, acts more “naturally,” and yet her natural behavior is also rooted in an ignorance of the truth.
Rose gathers Linda and Pammy and tells them “some really bad news.” Meanwhile, Ginny proceeds with her usual daily routine, designed to keep up appearances at all costs. At the funeral, everybody cries, although Ken LaSalle goes up to Ginny and says, “This is a big place for one guy to farm.” Ty gives a eulogy for Pete, in which he calls Pete a hard worker and a loving husband.
It’s important to note that even here, Ginny doesn’t actually see Rose express any emotion to her children—Ginny wants out of the room before she hears what Rose tells them, creating the impression of an emotional gap between Rose and her daughters. As the tragedy grows, the neighbors become increasingly callous and insensitive themselves; Smiley suggests that Ken is as heartless and greedy as he imagines Ginny and Rose to be. Furthermore, his comment is blatantly sexist—he assumes only a man can run a farm, rather than the two women to whom the land actually belongs.
Late at night, Rose calls Ginny and asks her to come over. Ginny remembers that after Rose was diagnosed with cancer, she stayed up for three days straight. Ginny prepares to go to Rose’s house.
Ginny and Rose have an undeniable (but painful) bond, based in their sisterhood, their traumatic memories of Larry, and Rose’s sickness.