The group have spent a week arguing over whether or not they should stay on Bankole’s land among the ashes. They have found five skulls, likely the bones of Alexandra and her family. However, Bankole maintains some hope that they are still alive, and he and Harry go to the police to ask for help finding them. The police are suspicious and unhelpful. Bankole and Harry return with supplies, but no news of Alexandra. Lauren suggests holding a funeral and burying the bones, but Bankole refuses.
Once again the group are forced to negotiate between the beliefs and desires of each member, a daunting task. This is made all the more complicated by the number of unknown factors at play in their decision over whether to stay or leave. No one knows what happened to Bankole’s family or whether there is any chance that they are still alive.
There is a citrus tree on the property, as well as patches of carrots and potatoes, and other trees growing fruit and nuts. Lauren believes that the group could start farming the land, planting the seeds she’s carried from the neighborhood and breeding the few rabbits running around. However, other members of the group, such as Allie and Grayson, disagree. Lauren points out that there won’t be anywhere safer the further north they go, and Zahra adds that Alexandra and her family must not have kept a good watch.
An even greater uncertainty for the group lies in the question of what awaits them further north. Some members of the group maintain hope that a more hospitable landscape lies waiting for them—yet this seems unlikely, given the fact that so far they have only encountered violence and destruction everywhere they have gone.
Harry says that there were no jobs in the local town when he and Bankole went to speak to the police; Lauren replies that it’s more likely that the townspeople were suspicious of strangers, as there are surely many people who pass through the area. Bankole agrees, and adds that it will help if they can grow the food they sell, as “food is gold.” Lauren makes a final case for staying, and Allie is the first to agree. Zahra also says she’ll stay, but Harry remains resistant. He wants to buy land of his own, not live on Bankole’s property. Bankole points out that the whole “rest of the world” is heading north, and thus land cannot possibly be cheap there. Emery suggests that Harry could get a job as a (slave) “driver,” noting that there are factories that use drivers near the Canadian border. The others are horrified by this. Grayson agrees to stay, and at this point Harry also relents. He calls Lauren “crazy,” but adds: “this is a crazy time.”
The perspective of each member of the group has been shaped (and often hindered) by their own particular experiences. Bankole retains hope that there is a future on his land likely because he has positive memories of the place. Harry, meanwhile, is caught up in a sense of pride that is likely rooted in traditional understandings of masculinity. Finally, even though Emery was traumatized by her experience of enslavement, it is difficult for her to look past this experience and imagine alternative futures. All of the characters struggle to reconcile their desires and hopes for the future with their knowledge of reality.
Two days later, the group holds a funeral for Bankole’s dead family members. Natividad wraps the bones in a shawl she made years ago, a gesture that Bankole finds so moving that he walks into the woods to cry alone. Lauren goes to find him there, and tells him she’d like to plant oak trees in honor of the dead. She suggests that all of the group should bury their dead in this ceremony, as everyone has left dead loved ones behind without a chance to say goodbye. She has enough acorns for each lost person.
The final moments of the novel are defined by a mix of optimism and pessimism. The intensity of the loss the group has experienced cannot be mitigated by the hope they now have about the future (as represented by the planting of the acorns).
Bankole remarks that it’s a shame that Lauren is so young and didn’t get a chance to see the country before it fell apart. Lauren says: “God is change,” but Bankole replies that this “doesn’t mean anything.” He laments that the country still hasn’t “hit bottom,” but Lauren says their group will not sink any lower. Bankole’s beard, and the serious expression on his face, remind Lauren of Frederick Douglass.
Finally accepting the fact that his family is dead, Bankole refuses to be consoled by Earthseed. At the same time, the presence of the acorns in the funeral serves as a reminder that in the midst of death and destruction, new life is blossoming. Even in the most tragic of circumstances, people have always been able to find enough hope to move forward—a fact emphasized by Lauren’s observation that Bankole resembles Frederick Douglass.
The funeral takes place. Each member of the group shares memories of their loved ones; some read Bible passages, some Earthseed verses, while others recite poems or songs. They bury the bones and plant oak trees, and decide to call their new home “Acorn.” The novel ends with the Parable of the Sower from the Bible, which is about a farmer who spreads some seed on bad ground and watches it die, but spreads other seed on good ground. This seed grows and flourishes.
It is possible to interpret the Biblical Parable of the Sower in multiple ways. However, the most prominent interpretation is that the parable emphasizes the importance of having a good heart or mindset (the “soil” from the parable) in order to receive Jesus’s message and have faith in God. In the context of the book, then, this meaning must be slightly reinterpreted—the “faith” might mean Earthseed, and having a good and open heart is shown to be all the more difficult in the harsh, post-apocalyptic world of the novel.