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Lou Ann finally gets a job at a salsa factory. She and the other workers are accustomed to the essence of hot peppers that permeates their skin and remains even after scrubbing. They all know not to touch eyes or private parts. Lou Ann does her job enthusiastically and even invents recipes that end up printed on the jar labels. Having a job seems to have elevated Lou Annís self esteem.
On hot evenings, unable to sleep, Lou Ann and Taylor stay up late after Lou Annís swing shift and read about disasters in the newspaper. Once, reflecting on why she is such a "worry wart", Lou Ann confides to Taylor a dream wherein an angel tells her that Dwayne Ray will not live to see the year two thousand. The worry from the dream is compounded by Lou Annís ominous interpretation of the next morningís horoscope. Taylor counsels Lou Ann explaining that Lou Ann hunts for disaster. "If you look hard enough you can always come up with what you want." Taylor further explains to a needful Lou Ann that worrying makes Lou Ann a caring and attentive mother.
Lou Ann gets a promotion at work and things are going well. Then she receives a package from Angel containing gifts, apologies and offers of reconciliation. She is confused and indecisive. About the same time, Taylor receives word that Mattie may have to move Esperanza and Estevan to Oregon or Oklahoma to avoid deportation. Taylor is confused at first, but then sees the situation with clarity.
We see the character of Lou Ann developing from a self- loathing, cowering personality to someone with more confidence and self-reliance. The package from Angel arrives as if to test her emerging independence.
Turmoil is also brewing for Mattie, Esperanza and Estevan. This awakens Taylorís perception of reality and the reader intuits that she will meet this injustice head on, perhaps finding those surprising resources within herself.