Adora is found guilty of murder in the first degree for what she did to Marian, and her lawyer begins planning an appeal. The Wind Gap house is abandoned—Alan has moved into an apartment near the prison where Adora is incarcerated. As the story spreads, “quickie paperbacks” detailing the lurid tale are published, and Camille is “showered with book offers.” Curry pushes her to take one, but quickly backs off.
Camille and her family’s story is luridly commodified by others in a cruel bastardization of Camille’s obsession with words, language, and telling the truth.
Camille receives a letter from John Keene. In it, he writes that he suspected Amma all along, and moved into Meredith’s place to “keep watch.” Camille doesn’t hear anything from Richard—she knew, from the way he looked at her body when he saw her scars, that he would never contact her again.
Whereas John demonstrates in his letter his steadfast commitment to the truth, Richard shies away from the truth of Camille, rejecting her upon seeing her traumas take shape on the canvas of her body.
Amma is locked up in a juvenile facility, and will probably be incarcerated well past her eighteenth birthday. Camille has only visited once, and though she promised herself before the visit that she would not ask about the killings, her questions began tumbling out as soon as she saw Amma. Amma admitted that she was friends with the girls for a while—they would run wild together in the woods, hurting and killing stray animals. When Adora, however, “got all interested” in Ann and Natalie, the girls started coming by the house and asking questions about Amma’s sicknesses. Amma worried that the girls would “ruin everything,” but the final straw came when Ann bit Adora—Amma couldn’t stop thinking about “why Ann could bite [Adora]” while she herself could not. As for the teeth, Amma says that she only took them because she needed them to make the dollhouse “perfect.”
As Amma reveals the full truth to Camille, she lingers both on her anger at Adora—and her desire to, through the dollhouse, replicate Adora’s life and behavior. These competing impulses show just how thoroughly confused and victimized Amma was—when Adora’s abuse left Amma with no way of retaliating, the sight of someone else taking action against Adora snapped something within Amma, leaving her in need of justice of her own and, still, a continued pursuit of ways to make Adora love her more than anyone.
Camille speculates that Ann and Natalie died because Adora paid attention to them. Camille believes that Amma, who allowed Adora to sicken her for so long in an attempt to control Adora in exchange for “uncontested love and loyalty,” grew angry when “other little girls” entered the picture. Camille believes that this is the same reason Amma killed Lily—because she believed Camille liked her better. Camille is exhausted by trying to figure out her sister’s motives, though, and in the end she believes that Amma just enjoys violence: “A child weaned on poison,” Camille posits, “considers harm a comfort.
As Camille further attempts to deconstruct her sister’s motivations, she focuses on the idea that Amma and Adora entered into a secret, tacit agreement—Adora would get to do what she wanted to Amma as long as Amma would enjoy her favoritism. When that deal collapsed, Amma lashed out. At the end of the day, though, endless speculating cannot cover up the fact that Amma simply enjoyed hurting others because of what she learned from Adora.
Camille reveals that she relapsed on the day of Amma’s arrest. Though Curry and Eileen came over to provide support and comfort, Camille snuck a knife into the bathroom and used it to deface the last perfect circle of skin on her back—Curry broke into the bathroom just as Camille was about to “go for [her own] face.” Curry and Eileen immediately helped Camille pack up her things, and then moved her into their home, where they could watch over her—and keep her away from sharp objects.
Camille’s narration has been so focused on everyone else that her own way of dealing with the intense pain and trauma of the truth has been avoided—but when she reveals that she relapsed, she symbolically admits that in light of such painful truths, her grasp on language as a coping mechanism broke down, and she sought to simply harm herself intensely and senselessly, ruining the “work” she’d done over the years to reclaim her body as her own.
Now, Camille says, she is learning to be cared for—she is learning to be “parented.” Eileen and Curry are gentle with her—they tuck her into bed each night, cook her meals, and sometimes even run a bath for her or brush her hair. It is now one year to the day that Camille has been back from Wind Gap, and Camille is starting to get better. She still often thinks, however, of the night Amma fell sick with fever. She wonders if she was good at caring for Amma because of kindness, or because she has “Adora’s sickness.” Though Camille wavers back and forth between the two, lately, she has been “leaning towards kindness.”
Camille cannot help but fear that more pain, abuse, and evil are predestined for her as she moves through life. It seems that she is afraid of the idea that she is still a kind person in spite of all she has suffered—and yet she desperately wants to believe that she has broken the cycle of her family’s long history of abuse, victimization, and toxicity, and can at last live her life in the light.