Carl dislikes the visits from Grandfather because, as he explains to his wife, "your father only talks about one thing." Grandfather led a wagon train from the Midwest to the California coast in his younger days. Once he arrived at the ocean, there was no place else to go. He tells the same stories over and over again; Carl says he has heard one particular story about how the Indians drove off the horses "about a thousand times." According to Carl, Grandfather never even changes the wording in his stories. Carl can't stand the repetitive nature of the stories; he says as a last resort he can excuse himself and go sit in the bunkhouse with the hired hand if the stories get too dull. Although Carl listens patiently enough to Grandfather's story in the evening, the next morning at breakfast before Grandfather appears, Carl mocks Grandfather and complains to his wife, saying, "That time's done. Why can't he forget it, now it's done?" Grandfather overhears Carl's harsh words, and Carl tries to take them back. Grandfather admits "an old man doesn't see things sometimes" and resolves to tell the stories only to people who want to hear them.
Grandfather hints at another reason why Carl may not like hearing Grandfather's stories. When Jody, the boy, insists he likes the stories, Grandfather says, "Of course you do, but you're a little boy. It was a job for men, but only little boys like to hear about it." One might surmise that Carl feels less important than his wife's father because the older man has done something great in his life; Carl, on the other hand, leads a pretty mundane existence. A glimmer of jealousy and/or lowering of his own self-esteem may spring up in Carl each time he hears of what the previous generation accomplished. Since Jody has his whole life ahead of him, he finds the stories of great deeds inspiring. Carl, on the other hand, finds that Grandfather's tales only serve to reinforce the fact that "westering has died out of the people," including himself.