Sensing he’s up to something, Lidja, the therapist, reluctantly lets Frank practice on the exercise bars. All the children love Lidja because she’s so attuned to their bodies and so confident about their prospects for recovery. Frank is especially proud of Lidja because she’s a New Australian like him. Frank knows that Lidja thinks he’s too “shrewd” for the children’s hospital, and sometimes he thinks so as well.
Lidja recognizes that Frank is a little too old to be treated like a child or to follow children’s rules unquestioningly. While Frank certainly isn’t as mature as he thinks he is, this is a reminder that his days as a child are coming inevitably to an end.
Frank finds Elsa in the therapy bath, where she’s drifting in an ugly bathing suit inherited from her cousin. Wearing it, she remembers her aunt Nance’s barely disguised disgust when she visited the last week, and feels ashamed both of the second-hand swimsuit and her crippled legs. She feels she’s brought shame on her family by catching polio. When she opens her eyes, she sees Frank.
Just as her mother’s worry motivated her to recover, Elsa again considers her own recovery from the point of view of her family’s reaction. It’s clear that Elsa feels very rooted in her family, but also that she spends more time worrying about them than her own health or happiness.
Examining her body, Frank tells Elsa that the bath looks like a pair of angel wings, and Elsa looks back at him quietly. However, Lidja catches them talking and brusquely ejects Frank, displeased. Frank feels his time at the Golden Age is limited.
Even though Frank wants to grow up, and to interact with Elsa as a teenager rather than a child, he knows that to do so hastens the end of his childhood, represented by his possible ejection from the Golden Age.