Chapter 43

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Lee has adopted American dress completely during their time in Salinas. He now wears broad cloth suits and narrow, black-string ties like the ones worn by cattle barons. His hats are round and stiff. All of his clothing is tasteful and expensive. Adam remarks that perhaps Lee will be the one lending him money before long, and Lee acknowledges that this is a possibility. 

The two friends talk and Adam reveals that he has discovered Aron's plan to study hard and take his examinations a year early. Lee asks why Aron should want to do that and, as if there were no other answer in the world, Adam replies that it is because his son has great ambition.

Adam wishes aloud that Cal showed the same sort of gumption as his twin. Lee hints that perhaps he has, and has his own secrets as well. Not pursuing the matter of the darker twin, Adam ruminates on what type of gift to get Aron when he passes his exams. Lee suggests an engraved gold watch and Adam thinks that is a fine idea. 

Aron studies for his upcoming exams in the rectory of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, where he can read and reflect on his materials without interruption. Aron talks to the priest, who reveals with some pride that he has, for several weeks, observed a woman of ill-repute in the pews during Sunday services. 

On the day of the exams, Adam waits patiently for Aron to reveal his results. He has the gold watch waiting for his son. The idea that Aron may not have passed does not enter his mind. 

Adam is disappointed when Aron tells him he is having dinner at the rectory but does not say anything else. Later on Cal, thinking there is not a secret to keep, accidentally tells his father that Aron did indeed pass. Adam tries to pretend that he already knew but Cal knows he is lying. 

Dusk turns to darkness. Cal sits on the front steps of the house, waiting for his brother to return. Lee finds the teenager there when he goes out to mail a letter. When Lee inquires what he intends to do when Aron comes back, Cal says he is going to "beat the hell out of him." Lee advises against this as Aron is the better fighter and Cal would probably get the worst of it. 

Cal goes inside and Lee waits alone for Aron's return. When he does, Lee reprimands Aron for his callousness towards his father. He tells Aron to inform his father in person of the test results. Aron refuses but Lee will not give up. He tells Aron he will fight him. It will not go well, he warns. Aron will pummel Lee, the smaller man, and he will feel embarrassed about doing so. Aron relents. 

Lee asks Aron what is bothering him so much. Aron says he just wants to go away; he feels that the town in dirty. Lee tells Aron to keep forging ahead, to believe that things will improve, and to go through the motions of life until they do. 

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