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David begins volunteering at the Animal Welfare League. When Bev asks David if he likes animals, he jokes that he eats them, so he likes part of them. This prompts Bev to wonder how humans will justify their behavior to animals, though David is skeptical there will ever be any sort of reckoning involved. David then watches as Bev works on a wounded goat. Bev determines that the animal is beyond saving and offers to euthanize it, but the owner refuses. David then recalls the story of St. Hubert, who gave refuge to a wounded, hunted deer, and then asks Bev if she minds euthanizing animals. Bev tells him she does mind, and that she wouldn’t want someone doing that to her who didn’t.
David then asks if Bev knows why Lucy sent him to her. As the two speak more, including about the circumstances that brought David to Lucy’s, David tells Bev he’s not just in trouble, but in a state of disgrace. He also wonders if, knowing that information, Bev still has a use for him. Later at Lucy’s farm, as David finds himself thinking about Lucy in the throes of passion with Helen, he realizes he doesn’t like to think of his daughter in this way. David also thinks about how fathers turn more to their daughters as they grow older. He then reads Byron’s letters of 1820, which conjures scenes of the then overweight and middle-aged poet living in Ravenna with his mistress, Teresa, lamenting that the thirties present a barrier to passion and desire.
Outside on Lucy’s farm, Lucy watches three geese that return to her farm every year and asks David if he could live there. David makes a sarcastic joke about being the new “dog-man” and when Lucy asks if he could take a university job nearby, he says he’s no longer marketable due to the scandal, a response that makes Lucy question whether David is simply running away. David then decides to state his case regarding his affair with Melanie, which, he says, rests primarily on following natural desire and instinct. He reminds Lucy of a dog their neighbors had when she was a child, a male who became excited, and then punished for his excitement, whenever a female was nearby.
Three men, including one who turns out to be a youth, none of whom Lucy has seen before, then stride past David and Lucy on the path. When Lucy and David return to the farmhouse, they hear the caged dogs in an uproar. There, the men say there’s an emergency and ask to use Lucy’s phone. The story, though, is merely a subterfuge to get inside the house. Once inside, the men hit David on the head and lock him in the bathroom, where he screams out to see if Lucy is all right. The men later take David’s car keys and with Lucy’s rifle and shoot all the kenneled dogs, aside for Katy who’d been wandering free. The men cover David in methylated spirits and light him on fire. When the men leave in David’s car, the house is in shambles and it’s clear they have raped Lucy. The men also smashed Lucy’s phone and damaged the kombi, so Lucy decides to walk to her neighbor Ettinger’s house for help. Before she leaves, Lucy tells David that, when they tell the story, she wants to be in control of what’s said regarding what happened to her. David holds her, but she’s unresponsive, detached, and has very little to say to him.
After Ettinger and Lucy arrive at the farm in Ettinger’s pickup to get David, Ettinger tells them he never goes anywhere without his Beretta firearm. David first expects that Ettinger is driving them to police station, but instead finds that they’re driving, per Lucy’s instructions, to the hospital. There, Lucy demonstrates strength, purpose, and poise, though David continues to tremble. David is treated for his burns and later, Bill Shaw brings him to the Shaws’ home to be with Lucy. David thanks Bill and is surprised by his generosity. Later, Bill must help David out of the bathtub, dry off, and get into borrowed night clothes.
As both David and Lucy stay overnight at the Shaws’, David thinks he hears Lucy calling out for him to come to her and save her. It turns out to only be a dream, though, and Lucy tells her father to go back to sleep. In the morning, when David asks Bev how Lucy is doing, Bev only replies with a quick head shake. David then wonders if lesbians are just women who prefer female company and have no need for men. He questions, too, if the three men raped Lucy because she’s a lesbian. When David and Lucy eventually speak, David tells her he thinks it a bad idea to return to farm, but Lucy disagrees and overrules him.
David begins to see his own situation more clearly while volunteering at the Animal Welfare League. After Bev offers to euthanize a goat that’s beyond saving, David discovers that the clinic is a place of last resort for unwanted animals that have nowhere else to go. The situation mirrors his arrival at Lucy’s farm where he now exists, as he tells Bev, in a state of disgrace following his scandal and where, like Byron in Ravenna, he fears he’s entered the final stages of life. Through Bev’s work, David is also shown an example of selflessness, which contrasts with the largely selfish behavior that’s defined much of his life. Through Bev, David is also given a lesson on compassion for others. Bev’s care for old, unwanted dogs, the lowest tier of society, shows David that all people and animals, including those that may be regarded as lowly or unworthy, are deserving of compassion. That Bev, a woman, and one David considers less worthy because she’s unattractive, is now David’s teacher, is significant given David’s history regarding male-female power dynamics.
David’s explanation to Lucy about his affair with Melanie mirrors the hollow apology he provided to the committee during his hearing. David tells Lucy that his actions were primarily the result of desire and instinct, recalling their neighbor’s male dog who always grew excited and unmanageable around females. That the male dog was punished for following his instincts David finds unfortunate, and he likens the committee’s request for an apology to a castration or taking away of his manhood. David’s justification for his actions and his analogy to the male dog shows he still hasn’t accepted any wrongdoing for the affair. Lucy recognizes his evasion of responsibility, however, and challenges him, asking whether men should just be allowed to follow their instincts without any responsibility. Lucy’s challenge reinforces her independence from David and her independent thinking as an adult. Given David’s love and respect for Lucy, it’s likely, too, that her words resonate with him and help him start to see how he has erred.
Bill Shaw’s act of kindness provides another mirror in which David can examine himself. After Bill picks David up at the hospital, he says that as a friend, David of course would have done the same. David isn’t so sure, though, and again is forced to confront the largely self-centered life he’s lived until now, a humbling realization that’s reinforced when Bill, someone he had no interest in at first, must help David out of the bathtub. Although David has mostly been cynical about humanity, he now realizes that without the help of Bill and Bev Shaw, along with Ettinger, he and Lucy would still be stuck at the farmhouse, without a car or phone to make contact with anyone.
When Bev tersely shakes her head after David asks how Lucy is doing on the morning after the rape, it’s a clear sign to David that he wouldn’t be able to understand. As a man, particularly one who has womanized, solicited prostitutes, and coerced younger women into sex, David has largely been in the dark on women’s issues. Despite his attempts to talk and comfort his daughter after the rape, Lucy says very little and isn’t receptive to his efforts to comfort her, perhaps because of her awareness of his own history with women. It’s possible, too, that David’s continued efforts to console Lucy in part relate to his actions with Melanie, and that he now has a better understanding of how Melanie might have felt, and what he did wrong.