Watanabe returns to the kitchen, and Carmen, Beatriz, and Ishmael soon follow. Thibault tells Ishmael he’s peeling the eggplant wrong, and asks for the knife so he can show him how to do it correctly. When Beatriz sees Thibault with a knife in his hand, she drops her own, grabs her gun, and points it at him. Thibault calmly asks Beatriz to let him show Ishmael how to cut up the eggplant. He says that Beatriz can shoot him and Watanabe if he uses the knife for any other purpose.

Watanabe does not appreciate the suggestion that he could be shot. But he stays in the kitchen just to be near Carmen. In a stolen moment, the two of them agree to meet in the china closet that night when everyone else is asleep to have their first reading and writing lesson.

Analysis

In this chapter, we learn that Hosokawa’s mother died when he was ten years old. One year after his mother’s death, when he was eleven, Hosokawa fell in love with opera when he went with his father to see Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto. That opera tells the story of a father who loses his daughter. Perhaps Hosokawa, still raw from his mother’s death, found solace in an art form that makes exquisite music about passionate love, tragic death, and the loss of family.

Patchett juxtaposes Hosokawa’s memories of the deep pain of his childhood and the joy of opera with descriptions of the pleasant but bland relationship he has with his wife. Perhaps the trauma of losing his mother at a young age makes Hosokawa leery of forging deep connections to people. If he does not love anyone passionately, he does not risk a repetition of the despair he felt when his mother died. It seems possible that Hosokawa seeks out comfort, safety, and order in his human relationships and confines his passionate love to opera. But when opera suddenly fills his life in the person of Roxanne Coss, that detachment disappears.

In the tensest scene in Chapter Six, Beatriz points her gun at Thibault. Everyone is reminded that even though life has grown pleasant, the terrorists have guns, and death is still a possibility. But despite the danger, Thibault insists on treating the young terrorists as children, not as mortal threats. Earlier in the novel, he startled the terrorists by turning on the TV with the remote control. They responded by turning a gun on him. In this scene, he directly violates orders by asking the terrorists to trust him with a knife. Again, he finds himself threatened with a gun. Like Coss’s singing, which Hosokawa describes as “reckless and controlled,” Thibault’s commanding behavior is both risky and calm. His insistence on treating children as children is also evidence of his kindness.