Camille often feels weightless—like she doesn’t exist, or like she could disappear forever without anyone noticing. She attributes this sense of weightlessness to the fact that she knows so little about her own past—she never knew her father, and doesn’t even know how Adora and Alan met. Any questions she’s ever asked Adora about their family’s history are considered “prying.”
In a low moment, feeling completely debased and controlled by Adora, Camille reflects on the tense relationship the two of them have always had—a relationship defined by distance and secrets.
Camille never felt close to Adora as a child—she doesn’t think her mother ever knew anything about her, like her favorite color or food, and she herself never sought comfort from Adora. For a while, Camille convinced herself that the distance between her and her mother was a defense constructed after Marian’s death—but now Camille believes that Adora has “always had more problems with children than she’d ever admit,” and perhaps in fact hates and resents them.
Camille has a memory in her head of an afternoon about two years after Marian’s death, when Adora had a group of friends over for afternoon drinks. Camille was supposed to be upstairs doing homework, but secretly looked down on the gathering. One of the women brought a baby, and, at one point in the afternoon, Adora carried the baby through the house, cooing to it and bouncing it. Camille, looking down the stairs, watched as Adora kissed the baby on the cheek—and then bit it, causing it to wail.
After the debacle at the Nashes’, Camille goes to another bar for a drink. She knows she has been consuming too much alcohol in Wind Gap, but tells herself she simply needs some “lubrication,” a way to ease all the “sharp thoughts” in her head.
Camille continues to justify using alcohol as an escape from her problems, even as she recognizes that her problem is tipping into dangerous territory.
On the way home from the bar, Camille spots a little girl on a golf cart decorated with stickers—it is Amma. Amma is not headed home, though; she is traveling east. Camille decides to follow Amma and trails her very slowly. Amma continues past the farmyards and country houses on the east side of town and heads out towards the pig farm. Camille watches Amma “zip” through the gates of the hog plant, and then heads in herself, mentioning Adora’s name to the security guard at the front.
The secrets and subterfuge continue to unspool as Camille tries to quietly tail Amma through town towards their family’s huge hog farm.
Camille watches Amma park her golf cart and beeline past the slaughterhouse towards a big metal barn where the sows nurse their broods. Camille finds the entire operation “repulsive”—she believes working in a place where animals are used up, abused, and slaughtered “makes you les human.” Camille watches Amma head to the far end of the barn and follows her carefully, trying to remain unseen.
Camille observes as Amma watches a “nearly comatose” female pig nursing her piglets. They swarm over the sow and fight over her bloody nipples as the sow’s eyes roll up in her head. Amma sits cross-legged on the ground and stares intently at the scene. After a few minutes, Camille can see Amma smiling and squirming at the sight. Camille decides she has to leave—she needs to get away from the stench, the sound, and, most of all, Amma.
As Camille observes Amma delightfully watching this violent and sickening scene, she realizes that her younger sister delights in violence. The image of a group of piglets hurting each other—and even themselves—for a chance at some of their mother’s milk is a stark picture, and a metaphor that foreshadows Amma and Camille’s competition for their own mother’s affection.