In What Jamie Saw, why does Jamie panic after he is sent outside while his mother and Mrs. Desrochers talk?
After witnessing the brutal abuse of his baby sister Nin, Jamie is suffering from something similar to post-traumatic stress syndrome. His mother says, "we're afraid - just sick with fear...and it's so settled inside us that we don't even know what living feels like without it...and if we don't get past it, we'll be hiding from strangers and throwing up in the sink until the day we die" (Chapter 6). Torn from the stability of the life he knew, Jamie's emotions fluctuate between clingy dependence on his mother, fear and paranoia, and uncontrollable rage.
After the shock of seeing Nin thrown across the room and fleeing from his home with his mother and sister, Jamie has just found a modicum of newfound security in the confines of the isolated trailer home. His teacher's arrival threatens to take him away from even that, and send him back "to the exploded, contaminated world" (Chapter 7). He becomes agitated when his mother sends him outside while she talks with Mrs. Derochers, and afterwards, when she drives away to take the teacher her bookbag, Jamie's nervousness and fear are compounded by a sense of abandonment, and he panics.