Jess spends the day helping his mother pick and can the beans. His irresponsible sisters do not come back in time to help, and at the end of the day his mother is tired and out of sorts. Jess must get supper for himself and his little sisters, and after he has tended to them, he goes into his room to draw. Jess likes to draw, and wants to be an artist when he grows up, but his father does not approve. None of his teachers like his drawings either, except for Miss Edmunds, the music teacher.
Jess loves Miss Edmunds. She has "long swishy black hair and blue, blue eyes", and best of all, she likes him too. Miss Edmunds appreciates Jess's drawings, says he is "unusually talented", and encourages him to "keep it up". Other people think Miss Edmunds is just "some kinda hippie", but Jess thinks she is wonderful and genuine, "a beautiful wild creature who had been caught for a moment in (a) dirty old cage...perhaps by mistake".
In the evening, Jess's sisters return home, and his father comes home from work. Jess, feeling lonely, put-upon, and left out, goes out running. As he passes the old Perkins place, he meets Leslie Burke, who has just moved in. Leslie is friendly, but Jess does not encourage her overtures. He cuts off her efforts to make conversation brusquely, and when he comes out later to do the milking, she is gone (Chapter 2).