Last Updated on April 28, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 778
Makepeace buried Shamsudin and continued southeast on foot. Eventually she felt very weak with fever and lay under a bush expecting to die. Unexpectedly, she recovered and was able to keep walking.
She came upon a heap of dismembered bodies in the woods and recognized them as Tolya and the other guards. Makepeace thought they must have been attacked at night. She blacked her face and loaded her gun to protect herself, but when she fell asleep, an intruder put a knife to her throat and a hand over her mouth, startling her awake.
She was marched out toward a group of people of both sexes talking in Yakut. When the knife was taken away from her, she recognized the Tungus boy from the Zone. A little white girl accompanied the Indigenous people.
To Makepeace's surprise, the Tungus boy gave her a horse, and the group then drifted away. She thought this must be to repay her for having freed the boy.
Wanting to avoid being tracked by Boathwaite, Makepeace kept away from the main path. She still had Shamsudin's blue flask with her. She remembered her child, stillborn when Makepeace was sixteen.
She came to a village with an old church in it; astonishingly, there was a priest in it, and a junior priest, Yuri. They were alone in the village now, and they provided shelter and food for Makepeace.
She showed them the memory stone from Polyn 66, and the priests were so delighted that Makepeace realized they thought the city was still thriving. She could not make them understand that the city was now dead.
A few days later, Makepeace was bathing when another plane whirred overhead. She waved her clothes and shot her gun, but it did not stop. However, she thought she knew where it was going.
Makepeace rode fiercely back toward the base. When she grew near, she dismounted and hid in the trees, looking at the plane standing by the front gate. She wondered who could have built it, and how.
That night, she set a fire and considered what to do. She considered leaving, in the knowledge that the plane existed. But she did not.
As it turned out, Eben Callard was on the plane.
Callard was older now and had become blind. He recognized Makepeace's voice but did not realize who she was.
Unable to leave without seeing the plane more closely, Makepeace had ridden up to the sentry, who had taken her horse away. The body of Boathwaite was hanging from a wooden cross in the parade ground.
Makepeace was still treated as a guard. She went back to her hut until she was told that Callard wanted to see her. He asked where she had been and how she had survived.
Makepeace told him as little as possible. She felt hopeless now, as if her life were a joke.
The climactic moment of the story, when Makepeace is finally able to track down the plane, is imbued immediately with pathos after Eben Callard, the man who has haunted Makepeace since she was sixteen years old, is discovered with it. The plane and Callard have both been defining elements in Makepeace's mental landscape throughout the course of the book, but each has represented a quite different thing. The plane has always been, for Makepeace, a symbol of hope: it represents the fact that there is still some part of the old world which survives. The sight of the first plane was what gave Makepeace the strength to continue when she felt she wanted to die; it has given her the energy to continue despite all the bad things that have happened to her. Callard, on the other hand, is the "Bad Thing," as Makepeace thinks of it. He is the man who has set in motion many of the worst events of Makepeace's life, having raped her as a girl and burned her face, changing the course of her life. The plane and Callard are two things which should not go together in Makepeace's mind. Seeing Callard with the plane, then, means that she loses whatever hope she still had.
In a just world, Callard should not have survived, but he continues to haunt Makepeace. Just as he ruined her life when she was a girl, he has lived long enough to ruin this one thing which had given Makepeace continued hope. The result is that Makepeace feels that her whole life has been a cruel joke played on her by the universe—especially because, while Callard has been such a significant figure in her life, he does not even seem to recognize her.
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