Kira and Thomas run through the crowd to stop Matt. Kira has very little experience in the world of men, as men lead separate lives from women. The hunters are boasting to each other. This is what attracts Matt, who has a childish tendency to brag. Thomas tells Kira that she shouldn’t be there, that women are out of place. Kira notices the coarseness and loud noise, and agrees with Thomas. Nonetheless, she moves toward Branch and Matt.
Kira’s experience with the hunters in this section give us some idea of how men in the village behave: they’re loud, crude, and impossible to reason with. Kira seems to think that this is simply how men behave, but in actuality, men have to learn to behave this way. We see this very clearly with Matt: every grown-up hunter in the village, Lowry suggests, was once a small child carrying a spear.
Kira shouts Matt’s name, but he responds that his name is “Mattie” now—Kira insists that he won’t be at two syllables for many years, and takes the spear away from him. Matt shows Thomas and Kira that he’s covered his body in swamp grass so that he looks like he’s hairy. Thomas and Kira decide to take Matt to the Council Edifice for a bath. That night, they bathe him, despite his protests, and share their dinners with him. Matt hates his bath but enjoys his food. He tries to grab Kira’s pendant, but she tells him that it’s a gift for her. Kira and Thomas send Matt back out of the building. By this time, the men have left for their hunt.
Matt clearly thinks that growing up and being a hunter are one and the same, and as far as the village is concerned, he’s probably right. But we’ve already seen that there’s no law that says men have to become hunters—they can also become artists, like Thomas, or guardians, like Jamison. Matt lacks any kind of education—thus, Kira has to struggle to explain the concept of “gift” to him. It’s also interesting to see Kira and Thomas acting like a married couple: taking care of a small child together. This suggests that they’re both maturing in the act of caring for other people.
Later that night, Kira tries to explain how her cloth warned her about Matt, but finds it difficult to explain. Thomas suggests that the cloth speaks to Kira and Kira alone, but shows her the piece of wood he mentioned earlier. Kira is surprised to see that it’s far more intricate than anything else she’s seen Thomas carve. Thomas can’t explain how he carved the wood. He says that it carved itself. He understands why Kira responds to her cloth, he says, because he can communicate with his wood in the same way. Kira thanks Thomas for understanding, and for helping her with Matt. As they laugh about Matt, they begin to feel like friends.
At the end of this chapter, we get another hint that the Council of Guardians hinders artistry instead of encouraging it. While it’s true that they give artists like Kira and Thomas a vehicle for their abilities, it’s also the case that the Council forces artists to work on projects that have no special significance to the artists themselves. In spite of all this, we see that Thomas and Kira are artists: this means that they have an inexpressible intuition for what to create.