The terrorists release another group of captives. The remaining thirty-nine men and one woman, Roxanne Coss, realize that their ordeal will not end for a long time.


Coss initially plays the role of the diva, behaving with both bravery and self-involvement. Bolder than anyone else in the room, she is not afraid to challenge generals with guns. But Coss also cares primarily about herself. The narrator says that of all the arguments Coss gives the generals in favor of her release, the least convincing is her suggestion that she needs to look after her sick accompanist.

Coss, in these chapters, is the diva who merely absorbs the awe and love of her fans without returning affection. She hardly registers that her accompanist, Christopf, is a person. They spend hours together each day, but she knows almost nothing about him or his personal life. When Christopf expresses his love for Coss on the plane, she reacts with annoyance. Coss is not unkind, she is just uninterested.

In this chapter, Hosokawa makes direct contact with Coss for the first time when he pays his condolences for Christopf’s death. The impulse to show kindness and affection in the face of death, which Hosokawa displays, will be a theme throughout the novel.

Patchett sets up an exploration of time when General Alfredo shoots the clock near the end of Chapter Three. Alfredo’s symbolic gesture literally stops the clock, a keeper of time, and metaphorically marks the end of normal time for the hostages and the captors, and the beginning of a time apart from the rest of the world.


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