Doc Homer conducts his entire life as if it were a medical experiment. Medical metaphors abound in the chapters where the narrator is aligned with his perspective. He always attempts to be objective and maintain himself at a distance from his surroundings.
Although Doc Homer presents himself to the other characters as intentionally and happily separate from those around him, he feels a great deal of sadness at the extension of this distance to his relationship with his daughters. His chapters focus primarily on past events, suggesting that he is attempting to remedy some wrong or to find a clue to help him understand his life. Similarly, in his photographic hobby he tries endlessly to recreate a scene from his memory out of other images.
Doc Homer struggles throughout the story with Alzheimer's disease, which affects his memory as well as his capacity to communicate. In this way, the disease mimics his life by accentuating peculiarities that Doc Homer already showed even in perfect health. Ironically, as Doc's disease develops, Codi begins to press him to communicate, and he finally becomes willing to do so, though is often prevented by the disease. Similarly, Doc Homer had tried to erase certain elements of his past by changing his name and pretending to forget that his family came from the Gracela valley. Again, just as Codi begins to ask him direct questions about these facts, the Alzheimer's disease affects his memory so that he truly experiences gaps where he formerly created his own. Doc Homer has always simply changed the subject when a subject arose that he did not want to discuss. Now when Codi asks him about his last name, he cannot remember who she is and attempts to keep his hold on reality by talking about the one thing he is able to remember. To Codi, this method of coping with the disease looks exactly like his lifelong method of coping with unwanted questions. She is unable to distinguish either his change in attitude about communicating with her or the signs of his disease.
Doc Homer shows many signs of being completely disconnected from his community. However, he is the town doctor. He is well known to the townspeople and is surreptitiously cared for by the older women. In addition, his article on its genetics demonstrates a deep interest in the community. While Doc Homer's relationship to those around him may take place in the form of doctor-patient relations and scientific research, the connection to the community is nonetheless still present.