In the army, the men had regular pay, and in their uniforms white women danced with them without worrying about their being Indian. But when the other guys press Tayo to tell his war stories, Tayo sums up the experience of Indians in the war and after it in bleak terms: as long as they were in uniform they were not discriminated against, but as soon as the war was over and they shed their uniforms, the discrimination returned. As he talks, Tayo looks at Emo and realizes that Emo is furious at him for ruining their good time. Emo is angry with Tayo because he blames himself and the other Indians for losing the respect of the whites after the war; he does not think to blame the whites. Emo and the other guys go on drinking to try to recapture the feeling of belonging that they had during the war. Tayo gets quiet, and when he begins to cry the guys pat him on the back, thinking he is crying for Rocky and what the Japs did to him. But actually, Tayo is crying for them and there situation right there in the bar.
Tayo does not hate the Japanese soldiers. They always reminded him of his friends and family. Tayo remembers how after the flood knocked Rocky out of their hands, one of the Japanese soldiers picked him up again, covered him in a blanket, and shot him in the head, while Tayo screamed. The corporal tells Tayo that Rocky was already dead; Tayo will never know for sure.
Tayo wakes up in the shade with Harley, recovered from the sunstroke. He looks out at where the spring still flows and remembers gathering water from it with Josiah during the drought when he was a boy. As they gathered water, Josiah explained to him how every part of nature was important and that the old people said droughts only happened when people forgot.
As Tayo and Harley drink from the spring, Tayo thinks "maybe this wasn't the end after all." A poem tells the story of Pa'caya'nyi who came from Reedleaf town up north and asked the people if they wanted to learn some new magic. He brought his mountain lion, made an altar, and struck the wall and made water and a bear come from it. Everyone believed his magic so much that they forgot their mother corn altar. But Pa'caya'nyi's magic was just a trick. Mother corn was so angry at being neglected that she left, taking the plants and the grass, and the rain clouds with her.
Tayo and Harley finally arrive at the bar. Tayo settles himself in to get drunk and remember Rocky. Tayo remembers when he and Rocky killed a deer. He touched the deer when it was still soft and warm. When Rocky began to gut it, Tayo covered its eyes, out of respect as the people said you should. Rocky was becoming ever more skeptical of the old ways, as he excelled at school and his teachers told him not to be held back by the people at home. Both Rocky and Auntie were ready to sacrifice the old ways, which they saw as the only way to succeed in the white world. Rocky gutted the deep while Josiah and Robert came and performed the rituals to appease its spirit. When they returned to the village, there would be more ceremonies, which Rocky would avoid, disapprovingly.
Harley keeps feeding Tayo beer, remembering somewhat nervously what happened the last time they came to the bar. Harley kept telling the others to leave Tayo alone, but they continued bothering him until Tayo jumped up, broke a bottle, and shoved it into Emo's stomach. Tayo reassures Harley that he won't do the same to him.