In the manner of Cain, Cal becomes restless, wandering the streets at night. After a drunk named Rabbit Holman invites him to Kate's brothel, Cal finally learns the truth about his mother. He worries he has inherited her inhumanity but Lee reassures him that he has free will and he attempts to live a moral life. However, he feels drawn toward darkness.
Cal is arrested during a police raid and his father tells Cal about the year he spent in jail. Cal tells Adam he knows about Kate and both decide Aron should be spared the truth.
Cal begins to spy on Kate. She confronts him and tells him she thinks they are very alike. However, Cal realizes that Lee was correct; he does not have to be like her and he tells her that she hides because she is afraid.
Kate receives a visit from Ethel, a former prostitute who attempts to blackmail her. Kate has Ethel arrested and she is forced to leave the county. However, Kate's nervousness escalates into paranoia and she fears being arrested for Faye's murder.
As World War I approaches, Aron wants to leave but Cal convinces him to finish high school a year early so he can go to college sooner. He even offers him financial support in college. Lee offers Cal his savings of $5,000 to help. Cal talks to Will Hamilton and together they form a partnership to market beans during the upcoming war. As predicted, the war breaks out and Cal makes enough money to restore the money Adam lost on the refrigerated lettuce fiasco.
Cast as Cain, Cal often falters but struggles to be good. He loves his family, and standing up to Kate helps him realize he is not inherently evil. He displays considerable intuition in recognizing the fear that lies behind Cathy's facade. Indeed, he understands both good and evil. Later in the novel, Abra is the first character to recognize this struggling aspect of Cal's personality and it causes her to fall in love with him. Abra, mature from childhood, will state later on that Aron remained a child by continuing to live in a story.