While Holling is studying The Tempest in Mrs. Baker's room, Mrs. Bigio comes in and shares with Mrs. Baker that her husband (Mrs. Bigio's husband) has been killed in Vietnam.
The story is set in 1967, at the height of the Vietnam War. Both Mrs. Baker and Mrs. Bigio are employees at Camillo Junior High in Long Island, New York, and both have husbands who are serving in Vietnam. The two women share news about their husbands and commerserate with each other as they carry on at home while worrying about their spouses' safety on the battlefield. When Mrs. Bigio comes to the door of Mrs. Baker's room, obviously distraught, Mrs. Baker asks her if her husband has been found. Mrs. Bigio cannot respond; "the only sounds that (come) out (are) the sounds of sadness." Mrs. Baker takes her coworker in her arms and dismisses Holling. Holling does not know exactly what is going on at the time, but he knows that it is bad.
Holling learns the next day that
"Mrs. Bigio's husband had died on a small hill with no name, in a small part of Vietnam. He had died at night, on a reconnaissance mission. Afterward, the army decided the hill was not a significant military target, and abandoned it...Three weeks later, the body of First Sergeant Anthony Bigio of the United States Marine Corps was brought back home and buried in the cemetery beside Saint Adelbert's, the church he had been christened and married in."