Makani ducks, and David’s knife hits a pumpkin behind her. She runs, and David chases her. Makani emerges from the maze. The area around her looks like a creepy abandoned carnival. She spots the corn pit—a ball pit made of corn kernels—before her. The parking lot lies just beyond the pit. Makani dives into the pit. The kernels are as high as her pelvis. She wades through them as fast as she can. She tries to signal for a car, but nobody notices her above the shouting and honking of the crowd.
It’s rather poetic that Makani’s struggle begins and ends with a knife. At the beginning of the book, she struggles to forgive herself for cutting off Jasmine’s hair with a knife. Now, she must run for her life to escape a knife-wielding killer. Symbolically, overcoming David—or better yet, seizing his knife and reclaiming control over this weapon that has been a symbol of her shame and regret for the entire novel—could be the thing she needs to move on from her past.
Makani turns around and sees David poised at the edge of the pit, waiting to see what Makani will do. But David doesn’t see Darby behind him. With all his might, Darby pushes David into the pit. David’s face hits the corn hard, and his body lies motionless. Makani cries that Darby isn’t dead. “I’m not,” confirms Darby. But they both wonder if David is dead. They look at his motionless body. Makani thinks about all the people David has hurt. She knows that David will kill again, and it’s up to her to stop him. Makani wades through the kernels. When she reaches David, she grabs his knife out of his limp hand and kneels over him. David regains consciousness and looks at Makani. He doesn’t believe she’s capable of killing. Makani assures David that he doesn’t know her at all.
Makani seems poised to defeat David once and for all—but not without Darby’s help. So much of Makani’s journey has focused on the personal, inner work she undertakes to forgive herself for her past mistakes. But this forgiveness—and the healing process that preceded it—couldn’t have happened without a supportive community. Finally, Makani’s remark about David not knowing her reinforces one of the book’s central ideas: that people are often too quick to judge others, and, as a result, misjudge them. David’s underestimation of Makani will likely not bode well for him, as she insinuates that she’s more than capable of killing him. He also doesn’t know the knife’s symbolic resonance for Makani—how killing him with the knife could allow her to find empowerment in an object that she has for so long associated with shame.
As Makani stands above David, she finally understands his motive. All of David’s victims were preparing to leave Osborne for bigger and better things. People born in Osborne often find it hard to leave—they have too many connections to the land and community. But David’s victims were different. They were ambitious. David hadn’t picked Ollie or Darby as his victims because he didn’t realize that they had dreams and ambitions.
Unlike Makani, who has realized that it takes inner growth—forgiveness and introspection—to overcome her demons, David seems to think that external factors (like place and reputation) can fulfill him. He’s apparently bitter about staying behind in Osborne while his peers move on to more exciting places, yet instead of pushing himself to work through these feelings or find his own means of escaping, he takes his frustrations out on others.
Makani thinks about Makani’s mother. She used to be ambitious and had plans to see the world, but she got stuck in Hawaii when she met Makani’s father and had Makani. Maybe this is why she resents Makani so much: because she sees in Makani all the freedom that she has lost.
Makani’s mother is not unlike David. Both of them failed to look inside of themselves to understand the root of their unhappiness, choosing instead to believe that Osborne was the root of all their problems. As a result, their issues remain unresolved, and they remain as un-self-aware and miserable as ever.
Makani realizes that David has wanted to get caught all along because he knows they’ll take him to Tecumseh State Correctional Institution, which is a two-and-a-half-hour drive away. His prison sentence would be his ticket out of Osborne. Makani feels pity for David, whose dream was so pathetic and small. At the end of the day, Makani realizes, a person still has to live with themselves. Inner transformation takes more time than a temporary change of scenery. Osborne wasn’t David’s problem: “David was David’s problem.”
David’s denial and lack of self-awareness is so extreme that he can’t even imagine a practical means of escaping Osborne. Makani realizes how misguided David’s logic is. He doesn’t even know what he wants. He thinks he’s trying to run away from Osborne, when all he’s actually doing is running away from himself: from all the problems and insecurities he’s too ashamed and unprepared to confront directly.
Suddenly, David interrupts Makani’s thoughts, violently grabbing at her legs. But Makani is too fast. She stabs David in the back, killing him and ensuring that he will never leave Osborne.
When Makani kills David, it’s a symbolic depiction of self-awareness and inner transformation defeating bitterness and stasis. By stabbing David, Makani reclaims ownership of the knife (an object that has symbolized her inner shame about her past demons), wielding it this time as the hero of her story rather than the villain.