Rosemary shares a bedroom wall with her parents and can thus hear the conversations they have. Over the years, they discuss mostly the same subjects. After Fern leaves, Rosemary’s father becomes paranoid that his career will stall, which causes him to drink. Rosemary’s parents also discuss their concerns about Rosemary and Lowell. Ms. Delancy says that Lowell no longer believes that his parents love him unconditionally. She also praises the qualities that make Lowell “difficult,” such as his strong sense of justice. Rosemary’s parents try to overcompensate by paying Lowell extra attention and doing things they think he will like, but he hates this. Rosemary believes that Ms. Delancy cannot fully comprehend the grief her family feels over the loss of Fern.
There is a distinct and almost amusing contrast between the forced silence and denial that Rosemary’s parents practice in their interactions with her and the freedom with which they talk when they think she can’t hear. Rosemary’s impression of this stage of her family’s life together is thus colored by a strange mixture of extreme repression and extreme honesty. At the same time, Fern’s comments about Ms. Delancy serve as a reminder that just because you hear the truth, doesn’t mean you understand it. Ms. Delancy knows what happened to Fern and yet cannot properly comprehend the family’s grief.
In the first grade, Rosemary transfers to a “hippie school,” where problems are solved in a gentle, collaborative manner. Rosemary believes her parents do not tell the school about Fern. Rosemary’s father gives her tips on using her body language to make people like her, but this backfires. For a while, Rosemary befriends a boy in her class called Dae-jung, who has just moved to Indiana from Korea and cannot yet speak English. Rosemary speaks at him so much that his English quickly improves, at which point he abandons her for other friends.
Again, Rosemary’s ill-preparedness for normal human social life borders on comic. Her father’s well-meaning but profoundly misguided advice about Rosemary’s body language again confirms the limitations of science for solving ordinary social problems. The fact that even teaching Dae-jung English is not enough for him to like her proves just how much of a misfit Rosemary is.