Seeing that the sun is starting to go down, Robert and Pinky head for home where Mrs. Peck is waiting for them by the barn. She leads them inside to discover that Mrs. Sarah, the barn cat, has given birth the three beautiful kittens. "No matter how many times a barn cat has her kits," Mrs. Peck says, "it's always a wondrous thing to see.

Analysis

The essence of spring permeates the atmosphere as Robert and Pinky romp through the countryside. Spring is synonymous with life, and life is on display throughout this chapter. The snow is melting, new things are being born and growing, and nature abounds. For the first time in the book, the author allows language and description to set the mood for the scenes that he creates. Robert describes the land as soft, brown and ready to be mated with seed. Continuing the theme of birth and growth at the end of the chapter, Mrs. Sarah, the barn cat, has a beautiful little of kittens. Unfortunately, however, life is always fed by death, and this message is vividly rendered when the crow snatches up the frog that has been amusing Robert and Pinky.

Also growing is the bond between Robert and Pinky. Together, they do all of the things that normal human friends would do. Robert even talks to Pinky, asking her if she has ever seen a flutterwheel, and lecturing to her about the origin of his name. It is not explained whether or not Robert had friends before the timeframe of the book, but he does refer to children that he knows from school and church. Robert's relationship with Pinky takes the place of the friendships that he might otherwise have been having. It might also be implied that Robert finds the relationships that he has with the other boys in school to be unpleasant. Perhaps the differences between Robert's Shaker upbringing and that of the other boys were too great to overcome.

Though the lack of interaction between Robert and other boy is striking, he does have a little bit of a crush, which seems like a normal thing for a thirteen year old to have. Robert is shy about his feels, however, and sits in a position at meeting where he can see her, but she cannot see him.

Regarding Robert's namesake, the picture painted of Major Robert Rogers is inconsistent. It seems as if Rodgers is revered as a hero, yet he is most famous for running away. He is an Indian hunter, yet Robert's grandfather tells him that Robert Rogers also fathered children with Indian women. Lastly, though Rodgers was supposedly a Shaker, in word, appearance, and action, he displays none of the qualities usually associated with a Shaker man. This inconsistent namesake can be viewed as a symbol of the inconsistencies in Robert's adolescent personality.