Monday, November 20
Paul’s science group meets at his house. They work on the final copy of their report and then go outside and play with a soccer ball. Erik and Arthur arrive and without provocation insult the group as “farm-labor kids.” Tino stands up to Erik, and Erik hits him hard across the face, knocking him down. Erik and Arthur then leave. Paul helps Tino up. Tino, Henry D., and Theresa are then picked up by Wayne in his truck. Paul remains, very upset by what just happened.
Erik reveals himself here as not only obnoxious but a physical bully as well, picking on a younger boy who dared to stand up to him. Paul is confused, wondering what he might have done to stop this from happening. It puts him in a very difficult situation, because his friend Tino has just been assaulted by his brother Erik.
Tuesday, November 21
Paul reproaches himself for being unable to tell his mom or dad that Erik hit Tino. Paul rides with his mom and they collect some items from a storage bin. She inadvertently leaves her keys inside, but then realizes that Erik also has a key. Paul wonders why Erik would have a key to the storage bin. Mom also says that she is meeting with Erik’s guidance counselor because his grades have been slipping.
At the school, Paul sees the football players hanging around just after practice ends. Luis drives up and challenges Erik for hitting Tino. They are about to get into a fight when Arthur Bauer walks up to Luis and slugs him in the head with a blackjack. Erik and Arthur walk off, while Antoine Thomas helps Luis up. Luis returns to his truck.
This is a repeat of the scene before it, but with different actors and what will become a much more serious outcome. Again, someone (this time Luis rather than his younger brother Tino) stands up to Erik and Arthur, and this time it is Arthur who produces the violence, at Erik’s bidding. Paul well knows the truth about Erik. When his mom tells him that she is meeting with Erik’s guidance counselor, Paul’s first thought is that Erik must have done something bad. When his mother says that is not the case, and wonders why Paul should think so, Paul thinks to himself, “Because Erik is a psycho, Mom.” But at the moment, he is the only one who thinks this. His parents do not want to face the truth about their own son.
Thursday November 23, Thanksgiving
It is very cold. The citrus growers, to prevent the crop freezing, create bonfires, using anything they can to create heat and smoke. Henry and Paul go tohelp Luis and Tino in the groves. Victor, Hernando, and Mano are also there. They help to haul tires and brush, and various other tasks. The forecast is for ten hours of hard freeze. They struggle all night to save the tree, dealing with various crises as they come up. The temperature drops to 24 degrees and the boys are ordered to go back to the hut and rest. Paul sleeps. At 6:30 in the morning, he awakes to the news that their efforts have been successful. Paul’s mom comes to pick him up.
This scene shows Paul once more stepping up to the plate to help in a crisis at the nursery. He works as part of a team, just as he does on the soccer field. The well-researched chapter shows the desperate struggle that citrus growers engage in as they try to save their trees when a freeze comes.