Rosalind calls to David who, semiconscious, begins meditating on his love for Rosalind. He tells the reader that there are “no words” to describe his feelings for her, because words cannot adequately capture the intensity and nuances of his emotion. Love, he says, renders time meaningless.
David is forced to express his love of Rosalind to the reader through words. He speaks in metaphorical language but says that poetics fail to truly capture his emotions.
When David fully comes to, Rosalind is explaining to Michael that men from the Fringes dropped from the trees onto their great-horses and they are not sure where they are being taken. The men are friendly, however, and David talks to one of them about what it’s like to live in the Fringes. The man explains that over time, God turns the Fringes into Wild Country and then into civilized land. David tells him that he thought the Devil ruled the Fringes, but the man explains that the influence of the Devil is actually more present in Waknuk.
As David ventures deeper into the wilderness, he learns that more and more of the things he was taught as a child are not true. His experience with Sophie taught him that having a Deviation does not necessarily make a person evil. He now realizes that she was not an exception, and many people who Deviate are actually very kind.
The Fringes man goes on to explain that the Old People thought that they were made in the Image of God, and then God destroyed them in Tribulation. He questions why the people of Waknuk would want to emulate a population that was punished and destroyed. God, he says, never dies, and consequently is always changing things. To him, “life is change,” and God sent Tribulation as a reminder that nothing can stay the same forever. He also asserts that it is impossible for the authorities in Waknuk to truly know what is a Deviation and what is normal. They believe that they have this knowledge only out of arrogance and a desire to control life, which is inherently not under human control.
The man’s statements about the pointlessness of trying to follow in the Old People’s footsteps are similar to those made by Uncle Axel earlier in the book. This man presents an understanding of time that differs greatly from the one with which David has grown up. Instead of thinking of time as a constant march toward redemption, the man believes that life is made up of a series of changes that humans cannot control. He is much more comfortable with uncertainty than anyone else David knows.
Meanwhile, Petra gets in touch with the woman from Zealand. The woman is finally close enough for Rosalind and David to be able to communicate with her as well. She advises them to emphasize to their captors that they are as Deviant as those with mutations that can be seen. The woman also explains that she is one of the New People, who are united by an ability to think-together and plan to rebuild the world that the Old People destroyed. She is unconcerned with molding herself to God’s image, but rather believes strongly in the power and superiority of communal thought. She likens those without this ability to animals.
The Zealander woman presents an irreligious understanding of the world in which certain races are superior to others. She considers those without the ability to think-together to be less than human and intends for people of her ability to take over the world. This view is similar to those held by many in the twentieth century who believed that certain races and religions were inferior to others, and thus could or should be eradicated.
The woman’s pride and disrespectful attitude toward God and the Old People make David uncomfortable. Rosalind is curious about Zealand, however, so she asks about the history of the Zealanders. The woman explains that people with think-together are often oppressed, but now that her society has the “machines” necessary to travel long distances, they make a point of rescuing anyone with this ability whom they can find.
The Zealander woman’s belief that an oppressed race will rise up and overpower its oppressors is similar to beliefs espoused by Karl Marx, who claimed that the proletariat, or working classes, would rise up and usurp power from the bourgeoisie, or the wealthy classes.
The woman from Zealand ceases communicating, and Rosalind, David, Petra, and the great-horses on which they are riding stop. The men put the fugitives on the ground, and Rosalind and David are relieved to find that the Fringes are not as monstrous as they expected. They are taken to meet a man whom David recognizes immediately as the Fringe leader who was taken hostage many years ago. In the years between, David has learned that his father once had an older brother who was found to be Deviant when he was a toddler. The man, whom David calls “the spidery man,” tells David that his mother, Elias Strorm's wife, loved him so much that she hid him away instead of allowing him to be captured. The spidery man asserts that, since he is the eldest son, control of Waknuk should actually go to him, not to his brother.
David and the others want to escape from the intolerance in Waknuk, but the spidery man wants to punish Waknuk for it. He feels that what is rightfully his has been stolen from him by David’s father, and he wants revenge. Even though Joseph Strorm and the spidery man would self-identify as being very different from one another, they are actually quite similar in personality. Both are willing to turn on their own family in the pursuit of their goals, to which they hold unwaveringly. This is further proof that physical appearance is not good indication of a person’s character.
The spidery man suggests that David has lost Waknuk as well, and questions why he is not fighting for what is his “by right.” David explains that he would rather live freely, without needing to pretend constantly, than live in Waknuk. The spidery man is happy to hear that an army is pursuing the fugitives, and he wonders whether David’s father is with them. David does not want to know the answer and avoids asking Michael to find out.
David, not motivated by hatred or vengeance, has no desire to return to a place where he is oppressed. Despite the dangers of living in the Fringes, he is happy to be able finally to be himself. The spidery man, however, interprets David’s desire to escape intolerance as weakness.
Rosalind catches the spidery man’s eye and he looks her over for a long time. David, angry, attacks him, but the man’s guards drag him away. The spidery man explains that there are very few women in the Fringes, and even fewer who can reproduce. He hopes to have children and implies that he will do so with Rosalind. This infuriates David and he tries to attack the man once more, but a group of men beat him up and throw him into the forest.
Although David avoids violence whenever possible, he is fiercely protective of Rosalind. The fact that David finally becomes aggressive helps humanize him. David is not so morally righteous that he does not ever have a violent thought. He can be aggressive, but only when truly antagonized.