Part 3, Chapters 22 Summary
The supermarket in Blacksmith is full of elderly people looking lost and confused, like inmates walking aimlessly through institutional corridors. Gladney pushes Wilder in a cart, and the boy is captivated by the brightly colored items practically screaming at them from the shelves.
The addition of a butcher’s corner and a bakery is exciting for all of them, and the other exciting news is why the market is full of shoppers: heavy snow is on its way. Roads will soon be impassable, so everyone must stockpile their supplies before it is too late. He sees his friend Siskind with a Teflon skillet under his arm, talking to five shoppers and awkwardly taking notes.
Siskind tells Gladney that he is thankful for Gladney’s help in the “Elvis Presley power struggle,” but it turns out his efforts were unnecessary since Cotsakis (Suskind’s rival for the Elvis program) died in the ocean in Malibu. As soon as Siskind heard the news, he immediately came here to grocery store to take notes. Gladney is suddenly and acutely aware of the sights and sounds around him.
Siskind asks about the family; everyone is back in school and Steffie is no longer wearing her protective mask. He then asks Gladney how he is, a confusing question. He diverts the conversation to Cotsakis’ death, although Gladney did not really know him, remarking at how big (physically) the man was and now he is dead.
Gladney and Wilder continue shopping, and Gladney admires the boy’s ability to find pleasure in fleeting things and then immediately forget them. Gladney envies his son that gift. Although houses always begin to show signs of neglect, the supermarket, “well-stocked, musical, and bright,” only gets even better.
Gladney takes Babette to her posture class tonight and they both note that the sunset has “become unbearably beautiful.” They used to last five minutes; now...
(The entire section is 481 words.)