Ida is in Snow’s, trying to question Rose, who wants nothing to do with her. Ida is not one to be easily dissuaded. She has, in her mind, all the right on her side, and now she has 200 pounds, thanks to Fred and Black Boy. She has the funds to keep up her investigation and the will to go on for as long as it takes. Rose flees to her room up the stairs from the café. Ida follows, admiring the flowers on the landing. She knocks on Rose’s door, but Rose has shoved a chair up against the nob inside. Rose wants to know why Ida cares about her, and Ida says she’s there to protect the innocent.
Rose cannot seem to shake Ida, who, interestingly enough, never questions Pinkie directly. She saves all her energies for Rose. Whenever Rose and Ida meet, flowers are involved. In this scene, the blooms represent the sad attempts at luxury Snow’s offers its employees. Rose just wishes Ida would leave her alone, but Ida believes strongly that she knows what is best for Rose and she is not above imposing her own will on the girl if it will do any good.
Rose mutters that Ida doesn’t know what innocence is. Ida reaches in the door, moves the chair, and walks in. Rose is up against the far wall like a frightened animal. Ida assures her she has nothing to fear from her. She’s her friend, she says, and she’s on the side of right. Ida goes on to explain that Pinkie is only using Rose; he doesn’t love her. Ida has seen enough of the world and of men to understand what is going on. She’s trying to keep Rose from harm. She confesses to Rose that she has never had a child of her own and she has taken to Rose, feels real affection for her.
Nearing middle age, Ida undoubtedly has more experience in some areas of life than the sixteen year old Rose, but Ida does not understand that Rose is motivated primarily by a love for Pinkie and secondarily by her religious beliefs, and neither is about to be shaken by Ida’s threats and innuendo. Ida’s saying that Rose is like a child to her likewise gets her nowhere.
Rose tells Ida she doesn’t care if Pinkie loves her; she loves him. Ida asks Rose how her father and mother would feel about her affair with Pinkie. Rose says they wouldn’t care. Ida supposes it’s all due to Rose’s youth. She’s romantic like Ida was once, but Ida predicts she’ll grow out of it. Rose stands there, quiet and staring, like a small animal staring out at the wide world from its dark cave. Rose might be young, but she has seen horrible things. Ida is right about one thing, though: she’s too young to put all of it in perspective.
It would seem that Rose is all alone in the world. Her parents, she contends, wouldn’t care if they heard she’d fallen in love with a mob boss. She looks out on the world like a trapped animal. Her life has been harder than Ida’s. Ida might have more experience dealing with people, but Rose has seen true ugliness and horror.