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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
Brint and Adam discuss how Adam felt after the telephone conversation with Amy. Adam says he felt ďfunny,Ē as though he instinctively knew to cover up about the Rawlings story. He did not talk to his parents about it and figured he could find out some other way if he had lived there--through old photos or letters. At first Adam cannot remember what he did, but then it comes back and he remembers the story.
Adam took the keys to his fatherís desk drawer, where kept important personal papers. One day when his father was mowing the lawn and his mother was in her room (as she frequently was) Adam looked through the drawer. He found each of their birth certificates, all signed by Tobias Simpson the town clerk in Rawlings, PA. He then found a plain sealed envelope. He opened it (he could easily replace it with another envelope). Inside he found a birth certificate with his name almost identical to the first one he saw, but the birth date was different. Instead of February 14 this certificate said July 14. Adam ran to the cellar, shaking.
Adam tells Brint that he thought the certificate was a mistake. He thought his father got all of their birth certificates when they left the town and Tobias Simpson made a mistake so they sent for another one later. The only thing that bothered Adam was that his father kept both birth certificates; he did not understand why he would do that.
This chapter paints a picture of Adamís house as a strange place. His mother spends most of her time in her room and his father keeps faulty documents. The mystery grows deeper and the reader must remember Adamís account of suddenly leaving his home when he was a child. This experience may have something to do with his strange birth certificate. Adam seems to be having trouble with his identity throughout the novel. He is afraid of everything and always panicky--he cannot really remember his past and he is searching for his father. His unknown birth date contributes to this confusion.
Adam recalls how he spied on his parents, trying to discover their secret. He could not bring himself to tell Amy, who took nothing seriously, what was going on. One night Adam listened in on one of his motherís ďThursday night phone calls.Ē Thursdays were her best days and she always spent an hour on the phone in the evening. Adam never questioned whom she called, even though he knew she had no friends and his father told him long ago that they had no family. As Adam listened he heard his mother speaking to a woman who seemed to be older than she. The womanís name was Martha and she called Adam her nephew. She was apparently away some place. She told Adamís mother it was not a retreat from the world. Adam was shocked and knew that there was something genuinely wrong, since his parents were obviously lying to him.
Adam tells Brint he is tired and goes to bed.
This chapter brings more clues about the secret in Adamís life. Cormier does a good job in developing an air of suspense, which pervades the entire story. Similar to how he made the chapter in which Adam discovered the birth certificate suspenseful, he succeeds here again when Adam is almost caught by his father listening in to his motherís conversation.
This is the first time Cormier breaks his pattern of switching back and forth between Adamís present tense ride to Vermont and his past tense recollections. This is probably because he is developing the sense of suspense in the story and wants to keep adding important details to further the plot.