Abra felt good about her plans to go and visit Lee later in the afternoon. When she saw Cal at school, she was smiling and asked him if he would like to carry her books.
Suffering from depression over his health and the loss of Aaron, Adam spent a lot of time sleeping. When he woke up one day, he told Lee that he realized his father was a thief. Lee questioned him because he had read the accounts of Adam's father as a great man. Adam said that he believed that his father had stolen his money from the Army.
When Lee went into the kitchen, he felt a rising joy at impending change, like "time was drawing down" for him. He thought it was ironic that Adam, the most rigidly honest man he had ever known, might have lived his life from the profits of theft. He also though it was ironic that sweet Aaron would possibly live his life from the profits of a house of prostitution.
Adam insisted on going down to the draft board. While he was gone, Abra came to visit. Lee was so happy to see her that he felt choked with emotion. He told her he had not wished for many things in his life, but he wished that she were his daughter. She answered by saying that she loved Lee and wished he were her father. Lee was so touched by her words that he had to leave the room and gain control of his emotions. When he came back, he was carrying an ebony box, which he gave to Abra. Inside was a jade button that had belonged to his mother.
Abra told Lee she had awakened with joy for the first time in a long time. She believed it was because she had faced the truth about her feelings for Aaron and burned his letters. She told Lee that she was simply not good enough for Aaron. Lee argued that she did not have to be perfect to be good. He then asked her what she thought about Cal. She replied by stating that he had asked her to go and see the azaleas when they bloomed.
When Abra was ready to leave, Lee asked her to come back often. She said that would be difficult, for her parents did not like her to come to the Trask place. He suggested that they might change their minds when they learned Aaron had inherited a hundred thousand dollars. Abra agreed.
When Abra went out the front door, Cal was waiting for her on the porch. He walked her home, and they talked about the military. Cal admitted that he did not like the idea of being a solider. Abra said he was too independent to be successful in the military. After he had left Abra at her house, Cal ran into the constable, who asked about the money he had made. When Cal told him he had burned it up, the constable thought he was joking.
Cal thought he should take flowers to Kate's grave. He wondered what kind would withstand the Salinas winds. He remembered that the Spanish name for carnations was "Nails of Love," and the name for marigolds was "Nails of Death." He decided he should get marigolds for her grave.
With Abra's encouragement, a romance between Cal and her is developing. It is interesting to note that neither she nor Cal feels guilty over their budding attraction to one another while Aaron is away at war. It is clear that Steinbeck does not want to complicate the final resolution to the novel's plot and will devise a way to take the seventeen-year-old Aaron permanently out of the picture.
The scene between Lee and Abra is poignant in its emotional purity. Lee, who admires Abra as a good person and a mature young lady, wishes that she were his daughter. Abra admires Lee as a sort of surrogate parent in whom she can confide. She loves him because he allows her to be herself, unlike her mother who has tried to shape Abra into an image of herself. Abra's description of her room, decorated by her mother in her mother's style, indicates that she has had no one to nurture her as a worthy and independent person until Lee performs that function for her. Lee and Abra show that blood relationships are sometimes less important than the relationships formed between kindred spirits.
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