The narrator states that although the town knew World War I was going on, it didn't seem like a real war to Salinas "until the dreadful telegrams began to sneak sorrowfully in."
In addition to the war deaths, Samuel Hamilton's wife Liza dies, the last of a generation.
Adam tells Lee how proud he feels about Aron's academic success. Aron passes his college entrance examinations a year early and does not tell his father who has a gold watch waiting for the announcement. When Lee confronts him, Aron wails he just wants to get away from Salinas.
After Adam goes to Stanford, Abra moves closer to the Trasks. She becomes particularly close to Lee. Lee acknowledges to her the rumors about Kate. Cal pays back Lee's $5,000. Cal plans to inform his father of his business success on Thanksgiving and give him a gift of $15,000 to make up for his financial losses.
Abra worries that Aron has put her on a pedestal and thinks of her as far too pure. Meanwhile, Kate's bodyguard, the escaped convict Joe Valery, finds out that the old prostitute Ethel has drowned but tells Kate instead that she has returned to Salinas. Ethel hopes to control her and earn more money. Afraid, Kate locks herself in her gray room.
Although earlier the narrator intimated that Aron was destined to do good, and Cal to do evil, it is not so clear now that both are on the brink of adulthood. After all, both have free will implied by the concept of timshel. Aron remains a child while Cal struggles to be a moral man. Aron continues to feel shame over his father's financial loss, runs away and allows his family to support him. Cal, on the other hand, faces the loss and attempts to make back the money, but the youth fails to realize the moral at issue: making a fortune on much-needed food during wartime.