Chapters 4-5 Summary
On the day of Alex Morden’s trial, it snows heavily. The people don’t say much to each other and watch the patrols move through the street.
Morden’s trial is brief. He is found guilty and sentenced to death by firing squad. When asked if he is sorry for killing Captain Bentick, Morden says, “No, I don’t think I’m sorry.”
Mayor Orden takes it upon himself to speak at the end of the trial. He tells Morden, “Yours was the first clear act. Your private anger was the beginning of the public anger. . . . You will make the people one.”
Then the soldiers take Morden outside to the public square. A few moments later, the people hear the shots that mean Morden is dead. A moment later, there is another shot, a single shot that crashes through the window and strikes Lieutenant Prackle in the shoulder. Colonel Lanser orders the soldiers to search the town for weapons.
As the weeks go by, the snow continues to fall and the miners work slowly and inefficiently. “The people of the conquered country settled in a slow, silent, waiting revenge.”
The people commit some acts of sabotage, causing avalanches and damaging the railroad tracks. The invaders respond by shooting people and withholding food. Soldiers who wander off alone are found dead in the snowdrifts.
The men begin to long for human companionship, but the townspeople will not accept them. They grow afraid of the townspeople, knowing the conquered will kill them if they get the chance. The officers handle the pressure better, but it affects them also: “The conquerors were under a terrible spiritual siege and everyone knew, conquered and conquerors, what would happen when the first crack appeared.”
Major Hunter stays busy rebuilding the railroad because it is bombed so often. In the Mayor’s house, Lieutenants Tonder and Prackle and Major Hunter talk about life back home in their country. Lieutenant Tonder speaks of how “horrible” the people of the town are. He says that he has heard that in other countries the conquered people...
(The entire section is 530 words.)