Ree splits wood in the yard as the snow finally begins to fall. Wrapped in her grandmother’s overcoat, she expertly splits timber for a fire, making up for the work her father left undone when he departed. After a while, she takes a break and sits down. She pulls headphones out of her overcoat pocket and turns on a tape comprised of soothing ocean sounds that allow Ree to envision herself somewhere else; somewhere calm.
Though her clothes generally represent Ree’s lineage and her often-unwanted duties to it, it Ree’s coat—inherited from her grandmother—also shields her from the harsh weather as she toils. Ree’s expertise at chopping wood shows that she’s had to do her father’s abandoned work many times.
Just as the snow begins to cover Ree, a pair of headlights shine up the rut road to Ree’s house. She removes her headphones and heads down toward the road. She sees that the approaching vehicle is a sheriff’s car, and that her brothers are in its backseat. Ree shouts at the man driving, but her brothers slide out of the backseat laughing. The officer tells Ree that he simply brought the boys back from the bus stop, as snow has shut down the school. Ree tells her brothers to head inside, and to bring the split wood in with them. She warns them that they do not need to be “ridin’ around with the law.” As the boys head inside, the deputy, who Ree recognizes as a man named Baskin, who once arrested her father on their front porch late at night, tells her that he was on his way up to her house anyway.
Ree’s aversion to interaction with law enforcement of any kind is inherited from witnessing her family’s many run-ins with the authorities. Dollys are taught from an early age to deeply distrust the local law enforcement, and have devised deliberate tricks, procedures, and codes meant to keep Dolly men and women out of the way of the law. Baskin especially is a familiar and loathed figure, and his presence on Dolly land is anything but welcome. At the same time, though he’s a reviled figure in this community, he’s still a well-known and integral part of it.
The deputy tells Ree to ask him inside, as he needs to talk with her mother. Ree tells him she is “not in the mood,” but Baskin doesn’t listen to Ree, and insists on speaking with Ree’s mother. Ree allows him inside, but Baskin quickly realizes that Connie is lost in time, and unable to hold a conversation. Ree tells the officer to relay whatever message he has to her, since her mother will be unable to comprehend it. The officer suggests that they talk on the porch so that the boys don’t overhear them.
Ree’s dutiful shielding of her mother from the world at large is on display here—Baskin is forced to accept that Ree is the primary caregiver in her family, and capable of hearing whatever it is he has to tell the family.
Out on the porch, Baskin tells Ree that her father is out of jail on bond. “You know he cooks crank, don’t you,” Baskin asks, and Ree responds by telling the officer that those are only the charges pressed against him. Baskin tells Ree that her father is a “half-famous” crank chef, and the best the Dolly clan has ever seen. Regardless, Baskin says, he is not here to bust Jessup on crank-cooking charges. Jessup’s court date is a week away, and Baskin is unable to turn him up. He tells Ree that Jessup put up as his bond the house and the timber acres he owns. If Jessup doesn’t show for his trial, Baskin says, Ree and her family will lose their home and land. Ree panics briefly, but pulls herself together, and tells the deputy that she will find her father. Baskin seems skeptical, but Ree assures him that she’ll be able to turn her father up.
The shocking revelation that Jessup sold out his family and his property as bond form the narrative engine of the novel, and launch Ree entirely into adulthood. Whatever illusions she maintained about the ruthlessness of the world her family inhabits are shattered by Baskin’s news. Ree’s assuring Baskin that she will be able to turn her father up when the authorities have been unsuccessful demonstrates her fiercely independent nature, and her allegiance to protecting her family and their shared secrets.