After the performance, the audience gives applause. Then the prophet, a tall blond-haired, bearded man of around thirty-years-old, silences the crowd from his place in the back of the audience. He thanks the actors, and then he begins a sermon. He says that he believes that everything happened for a reason, and that the Georgia Flu was undoubtedly a divine event equivalent with the Flood, meant to cleanse the earth.
The power of art after the collapse is evident in that even the people from a ‘creepy town’ applaud at the end of the performance. The prophet’s sermon, meanwhile, promotes an understandable response to the horror of a global catastrophe: that something as awful as the Flu couldn’t have happened for no reason, and, by extension that everything must happen for a reason.
When the sermon concludes, the conductor asks the prophet about Charlie and Jeremy, but he only answers that people come and go. When the conductor asks about the grave markers, the prophet asks how long the Symphony and specifically Kirsten have been on the road. Kirsten responds that she walked for all of Year One, but internally she feels dishonest since she has no memory of this time.
The prophet’s focus on Kirsten is the first indication of some connection between the two of them. This interaction also introduces Kirsten’s memory gap. The implication is that some trauma or horror has left Kirsten without a single memory of the first year after the collapse of civilization.
The prophet, on the other hand, claims to remember everything he has walked through and seen, and he explains that when people die spiritual deaths or leave without permission, the town holds funerals for them since they are dead to the town. After this pronouncement, he whispers something in the conductor’s ear, to which she responds “absolutely not.” The prophet then turns away and calls his dog, Luli.
The prophet’s memory of horror seems to link to his faith, and the strange funerals he holds following what he calls spiritual deaths but might really simply be people who disagree with him or don’t share his faith. Note that his dog’s name, perhaps coincidentally, is the same as Dr. Eleven’s.
Following this strange interaction, the Symphony immediately begins to pack up and leave. A young boy asks if they have permission and even threatens them, but when they are leaving he asks if they will take him with them. The conductor responds that they cannot risk looking like they are kidnapping someone. Outside of the town, the conductor tells Kirsten what the prophet whispered to her before: he asked if they would leave behind Alexandra, a very young woman with the Symphony, since he is looking for another bride.
The prophet’s request for Alexandra, a young woman, as his next bride indicates the extent that his faith and the circumstances of surviving the collapse have carried him beyond the boundaries of what’s normally considered acceptable. Not only is he polygamous, but he also wishes to seek a child bride. The Symphony, on the other hand, is extremely careful that they don’t even appear to kidnap or act inappropriately with children.
After a little debate, the Symphony decides to go outside of their territory towards Severn City, where apparently there is a settlement at the airport. They hope to expand their territory and find Charlie and the sixth guitar. With this decided, Kirsten climbs on a caravan to rest and to go through her clippings which, along with water, the “Dr. Eleven” comic books, and her paperweight, she keeps in her backpack. The clippings, which she has memorized, all contain images and details of Arthur Leander, his child Tyler, and his ex-wives. The chapter ends as Kirsten lingers on a photo of Arthur with his arm around a pale girl who will soon become his first wife.
Kirsten’s backpack represents both aspects of survival. The water she carries is an essential for simply staying alive, while the comic books, the paperweight, and the tabloid clippings are carried not for practical use—indeed, the paperweight is probably impractical to carry given its weight—but instead for their beauty and the sense of pleasure and purpose they give to Kirsten. They also provide an escape from the present and a window into the past and Kirsten’s obsession with Arthur.