Chapter 2 Summary

Chapter 2 changes viewpoints, from Little Bee's to Sarah O'Rourke's. (The novel will take this back-and-forth approach, chapter by chapter, as the story unfolds. As it does so, it becomes ever more clear how entwined the lives of this young, impoverished Nigerian girl and this upper-class English couple have become.)

Sarah O'Rourke is giving her seven-year-old son, Charlie, better known to everyone in his family and beyond as "Batman," a bath. As she takes care of Batman, Sarah considers the fact that Charlie has taken to wearing the costume around the clock. She understands that the costume is his childish way of trying to protect his family from the "baddies" who have already claimed the life of his father. Charlie is determined to not let anything else bad happen to his mother or anyone else he loves.

Little Bee arrives at the O'Rourke home five days after Andrew's suicide and just in time for his funeral. Little Bee is in Sarah's living room when the undertaker arrives. She goes to the grave site with mother and son.

During the service, Sarah is troubled by the missing finger on her right hand. As she rubs at the throbbing stump, she realizes that she has known that she and her husband were doomed since the first day Little Bee came into their lives on that beach in Nigeria. A machete is involved in the loss of the digit, but no clear understanding of what has occurred on that day on that beach has yet been revealed.

Sarah thinks back about the mounting signs that disaster was imminent. Unlike others who claim that tragedy strikes the unaware, Sarah was acutely aware of its encroachment. Andrew's lack of care in his appearance, his increased drinking of alcohol, and his inattention to detail at work were all signs that should not have been ignored.

Sarah retraces in her memory the last few months of her life with her husband and her life at the magazine, where she is editor in chief. She...

(The entire section is 549 words.)