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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
The narrator stops at a gas station to ask for directions and check the air in his tires. He meets an old man who helps him figure out how far he needs to go. He must travel seventy more miles; he has gone only five. The old man asks why he would want to go that far anyhow, as the world is filled with bad guys. He tells him to watch out because you cannot tell who is good and who is bad. The narrator tells the old man that his father is in the hospital and he is wearing his old cap because he thinks he will get a kick out of it. The old man tells him that his son died in World War II.
The narrator is obviously very determined to ride to see his father. Interestingly, the old man is missing a son that is about the same age as the narrator’s “missing” father. The boy notices how sad the old man is--it seems the boy feels the same
The old man’s warning that you cannot tell who is a good guy and who is a bad guy, foreshadows the theme of identity in this plot. The narrator will spend the rest of the story trying to figure out who his parents really are (good guys or bad guys) and who he is.
This chapter is another taped conversation between the T and A. T asks A if he wants to talk about Paul Delmonte or Amy Hertz. A begins to get another headache, though he refuses medicine. The session ends.
Although it is not explicit, the reader should consider the possibility that A is the narrator.
The narrator rides his bike, singing The Farmer in the Dell. He remembers a happy time in his childhood when his father sang that song off-key and his mother laughed. His father, Dave, would joke that the song was made for their family. When the boy’s mother teased that it was not, the father asked the boy his name: “Adam Farmer.”
Adam, the narrator, returns to his present trip. He is confronted by a huge hill and is afraid to get off his bike and walk, because he feels vulnerable. He has to go to the bathroom, but he is afraid to walk into the woods because he does not know what lurks there.
In this chapter we become more acquainted with the narrator, Adam Farmer. It is safe to assume that “A” from the tapes is Adam. He remembers his childhood with fondness.
Apparently he has some sort of problem requiring medication that makes him feel confused. He is glad he has not taken it before this journey. But we must wonder, what was the medication supposed to prevent?
We also get a growing sense that Adam is afraid of many things. He feels nervous walking his bike and he is afraid of the woods. This information develops his characterization (remembering that in the opening chapter he told the reader he is afraid of millions of things).