A few days’ journey from St. Deborah by the Water the Symphony comes across an abandoned resort. They carefully make a camp and dinner. When scouts report of a school up ahead, Kirsten, August, Jackson, and the viola go to the school in hope of finding instruments or useful supplies. There they find a few useful items and graffiti and notes all around the abandoned school. Jackson finds a skeleton in the men’s room, and August says a prayer over it. As they return to the Symphony, Kirsten tries to put the skeleton out of her mind.
One of the realities of surviving the collapse is interacting with countless dead bodies. August’s tradition of saying prayers over the dead is one of the few instances of harmless religious faith in the novel, presented as a way to deal with so much death. Kirsten and August seem to be the only ones comfortable with this type of looting, and it’s possible that August’s prayers are part of what make it manageable for him.