When Alex and Dave get home the next afternoon, the house is empty. Dave finds a note on the table from Julie, explaining that she can’t always be “last in line” for Alex’s attention; she’s leaving for a while, and she left Sharon with Alex’s mother. Alex picks Sharon up from his mother’s house, and she is obviously shaken. That evening, Alex explains to his children that he and Julie are having problems, but the kids seem almost numb. After, he calls Jane’s house to see if Julie is there, but no one answers. He calls her parents too, but they are as surprised as Alex that she left. Julie’s mother, Ada, asks Alex what he did to make her leave.
Julie’s leaving demonstrates that Alex, or anyone in his position, cannot continuously neglect his spouse and depend on her patience and understanding indefinitely. Alex’s marital crisis parallels his crisis at the plant, since in both cases he struggles to manage a series of complex problems and demands.