Robert is completely and fully a man by the time his father dies. When Mr. Tanner asks him to call him Ben, he is accepting Robert as his equal. Within the family, Mrs. Peck and Aunt Carrie immediately begin treating Robert as the man of the house. At night Robert puts them to bed with a glass of tea to comfort them instead of the other way around. Also, when Robert goes into town and asks Mr. Wilcox to take care of the funeral, he says that somehow, he will find a way to pay the fee. This means that he is ready to take over the family's financial obligations.
Robert proves that he is ready to take over for his father in many ways over the course of this chapter. While looking for things to do after the funeral, he begins the process of building a new brake for Salomon's yoke, displaying a thorough knowledge of how to perform this difficult task. When examining his father's tool in the shed, he finds that his hands fit the worn spots fairly well. Just as the tools are gilded by Haven's hard work, Robert is gilded by all the knowledge that Haven has bestowed upon him.
A large number of people show up to Haven's funeral, which surprises Robert because he only told a few and thought that only a few would care enough to come. The large turnout shows that despite Haven's modestly, people had noticed his kindness over the years and respected him for who he was. Though no one told Clay Sanders, it is easy to imagine Haven saying to him at some point that the day that he did not come into work would be the day that he died.
Though the decision is mostly made for him, Robert also shows that he plans to follow in his father's footsteps as a farmer and a Shaker, despite his education and ambition. When Ben Tanner tells Robert that he sounds like his father, he responds, "I aim to." He also wears his father's clothing to the funeral and later in the shed makes sure that his hands fit his father's tools.
When Robert's father dies, Robert carries on in his father's image. No shock or intense grief accompanies the discovery. Robert handles the discovery exactly as his father would have wanted him to. He even finishes the chores before going inside to tell Mrs. Peck and Carrie. He accepts what has happened, knowing that it was inevitable, and does what he has to, just as his father taught him. His only moment of weakness is when he goes out to the grave before he goes to bed, but even then, he just says goodnight and thanks his father for thirteen good years.