After having limped his way home after fighting with Angel, Eddie decides that he has no other options but to escape his environment by joining the military. His nina drives him to the Naval recruiting office, and Eddie feels like crying because it seems that he has lost, or is losing, everything that has ever been important to him. Realizing that his tears are futile, Eddie enters the office and finds that Larry the stoner is there too. Eddie thinks wryly that even in trying to escape, he is still surrounded by lowlifes; "it's either homies or stoners."
After awhile, the recruits are loaded in a small van which will take them to Lemoore Naval Air Station. Eddie reflects on the irony that, thought he has joined the Navy, he will be stationed in the desert. Eventually, in the middle of fields which have already been harvested, the van breaks down, and the recruits disembark as they wait in the blistering heat for the CHP to come and rescue them. Eddie sees a car in the distance, and begins walking towards it over the barren fields in the hot sun. He sees two black men gathering what is left after the harvest, and is startled to realize that he recognizes them. As he approaches them, the full burden of his despair weighs down upon him, and he crouches low to the ground, hiding his face in shame. Eddie feels a kinship with the earth and with the men who represent his brothers in suffering humanity. One of the men raises him up and hands Eddie two onions, and Eddie feels his eyes fill with "the last of childhood tears" (Chapter 9).