Last Updated on April 28, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 964
The caravan traveled until after midsummer before reaching the base, a thousand miles west of Evangeline. The man next to Makepeace was a Muslim, Shamsudin, who prayed five times a day. He had once been a surgeon. He could not believe Makepeace's family had willingly come to the Far North. He himself had been hoping to escape to the south, Japan, but had handed himself over into slavery out of starvation: at least the slaves were fed.
The group walked past Evangeline on their route, which Makepeace found comforting.
Another man, Zulfugar, was once a soldier. Even when very hungry, he refused to eat pork because of his religion. One day, the group walked past an old car, which Zulfugar admired.
Eleven men died on the way to the base. One day, one of the guards came to speak to Makepeace, and she recognized him as the leader of the band she had met in Evangeline that day. He was Caleb Boathwaite, the reverend's brother, and Makepeace felt he was dangerous. She wondered if one of the guards had fathered Ping's child.
The base became Makepeace's home for five years.
The slaves were housed in barracks in a thriving town. Makepeace worked at farming, baling hay and milking cows, in disbelief at the extent of the farmland. More senior prisoners worked in the kitchens, and there was plenty of food.
For two years, Makepeace did not see another woman, and so she found it hard to make friends.
Still, Makepeace wanted to live and tried to keep herself strong so she could escape. She enjoyed farming, and she still thought of the plane. One day, she was laying shingles with Shamsudin when she realized he was afraid of heights. To distract him, she asked him for a story, and he said he believed the earth was millions of years old and had been seen once from space. When the planet began to heat up, factories shut down, and people stopped flying and traveling. But life in cities still came to an end, and the earth was plagued by droughts.
At first, Makepeace was able to pass as a man. Eventually, however, she was found out, and a man threatened to rape her. She stuck a needle into his penis, but Shamsudin, knowing that this was only the first attempt, gave her a shiv to keep with her. The next time a group attacked, Makepeace stabbed one in the back and the other in the throat. She was punished for this by being placed in a cell, but only for a few nights.
Six months after their arrival, a guard, Tolya, picked out a number of prisoners to go to "the Zone" to do industrial work.
One day, Makepeace was led to a house and told to make the garden beautiful. She set to work. After this, she was taken to the garden two or three times a week. Sometimes, she heard women's voices from inside the house, and one evening she saw the house lit up with electric light.
Shortly after this, a little girl, Natasha, emerged to offer Makepeace a glass of water. It was cold, from a refrigerator, and had ice in it. The guards would not say where the electricity came from.
After that, Natasha often brought Makepeace tinned peaches and other things. One day she saw Natasha's mother cutting her hair, and at the end of the summer, the mother came out to properly thank Makepeace for her work.
After this, Makepeace told the guards she wouldn't do any more gardening and was put in a punishment cell. Boathwaite came to see her and said that the woman was his wife and Natasha his daughter. He asked Makepeace to continue with her work, but she refused; she hated the idea of being a slave for a woman like that. She began to plan her escape.
Makepeace sold clothes for cigarettes and food. She made birds and flowers out of wire in the smithy and sold these to the guards. She also made a small grapple and traded her money for leather boots.
Makepeace hid her bread to make rusks. From the lack of food, she became weaker. One day, she thought she heard another plane coming, and in shock, she fainted. She was taken to the sick ward and, when she tried to escape, she was taken to Boathwaite's office.
Boathwaite asked whether she had ever seen a plane, and Makepeace said she must have been raving. Boathwaite told her to rest, and her chains were removed.
The brevity and self-contained nature of this section of the novel reflect the period of time during which Makepeace was a slave at the base. Her life there was a repetitive one, and notably, this section contains less backstory and far fewer references to Makepeace's life before she came to be a slave. Previously, Makepeace was able to daydream about the times she had spent with her father and mother, and the life she had lived with Ping; when a slave at the base, however, her time and energy were so focused on staying alive and looking toward escape that these other thoughts barely intruded into her mind.
Makepeace's gender is shown to mark her out at the base, just as it has done, for better or worse, at other points during the novel. We are shown again that, despite the fact that Makepeace is disfigured and generally passes as a man, her gender means that she can never be free of the threat of sexual assault. However, it is likely the fact of her gender that meant she was chosen to work the garden for Natasha and her mother, there are some benefits as well as disadvantages.
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