Chapter 4 Summary

Sarah's chapter begins with her musings about the morning prior to Andrew's funeral and the events that preceded Little Bee's arrival. She looks out her upper-story window and sees her well-kept lawn, the orderly backyards of her neighbors, and the rows of similar homes that line the streets of Heathrow. The suburbs, she decides, are purgatory. Its residents are far removed and sanitized from the rest of the world and its problems.

Sarah wonders about her lack of emotion. Andrew has been dead for nearly a week but she has not cried. She has, however, consumed a good deal of gin as she contemplates her brief and troubled life with her now-dead husband. For a minute, Sarah's flight response kicks in. She considers gathering up Charlie and a few of her possessions and simply leaving altogether. Her ephemeral plans, however, are interrupted by the startling arrival of Little Bee.

Excusing herself on the pretense of getting them tea, Sarah, feeling uneasy and unsure, calls her lover, Lawrence, at his home. Also married, Lawrence is busy getting his own children their supper. He seems annoyed by Sarah's intrusion. He tells her, unhelpfully, to just take things "one day at a time" and hangs up.

Still, Sarah cannot cry and she wonders why. She knows she will soon have to face a church full of mourners who will surely question her lack of emotion. She rubs her eyes hard to give them the appearance of having cried herself dry.

Sarah returns to Little Bee, who is patiently waiting in the living room. She asks the young woman point-blank why she has come. Little Bee replies simply that she had nowhere else to go. Sarah finds this incredulous as they had met only once, and briefly. She tells Little Bee of Andrew's death and that she is preparing for his funeral this very day. Little Bee nods and says, "I know what you do in this country."

Their awkward moment is interrupted by the arrival of Charlie, aka Batman, who opens the door and finds the undertaker on his doorstep. To the child, the man looks like Bruce Wayne, Batman's alter ego. Charlie is thrilled but Sarah sends him outside to play. A few minutes later, she retrieves him from the garden. Sarah, Little Bee, and Batman go to the funeral service.

In the car,...

(The entire section is 932 words.)