Chapter three

Summary: Part 1

Back in the present, Marilyn, who hasn’t seen the damage the water did to Lydia’s face as James has, doesn’t understand why James insists on a closed casket at Lydia’s funeral. Nathan feels unhappy to see Jack at the funeral and wants to find out what Jack knows about Lydia’s death. At the cemetery, Nathan questions Jack. James makes Nathan walk home for making a scene, and Nathan reflects on what he knows about Jack, who lives with his single mother, a doctor, and keeps mostly to himself, though he also has a reputation for having sex with many girls at school. Nathan believes Lydia was one of those girls. 

Back on his street, Nathan sees the police at Jack’s house, and he goes closer to eavesdrop. Jack tells the police that he and Lydia were friends and that he was teaching her to drive. Jack says that the day before Lydia disappeared, they had sat in his car and smoked cigarettes. Lydia was upset about her grades, her parents, and Nathan going to college.

Summary: Part 2

At home, Marilyn and Hannah go to their bedrooms. James travels to his office, where he decides to look at Lydia’s autopsy report. He learns that Lydia died from drowning and had no intoxicants in her system or signs of sexual or physical abuse. James’s teaching assistant Louisa appears and invites him to her apartment so she can cook for him. At the apartment, Louisa and James become lovers. 

Meanwhile, Marilyn, unable to sleep, goes into Lydia’s room and thinks about Lydia wanting to be a doctor like she did. Marilyn finds the many diaries she gave Lydia and hopes to find answers in them about what happened to Lydia. But she discovers the diaries are all blank. In her room, Hannah imagines the comfort of hugging her mother, and she reviews the details of the day, determined to find out what went wrong.

Analysis: Chapter three

The theme of silence and its poisonous effects in the Lee household comes to the forefront in this chapter. As the fact of Lydia's death settles over the family, they scatter. Rather than turning to one another for comfort, each family member begins their own journey, making choices that will strain the foundations of their family. Nath convinces himself that Jack is to blame, and he picks a fight with him at the funeral and then eavesdrops on part of his conversation with the police. Rather than listening to what Jack has to say, Nath makes assumptions and then behaves as if they are true. James hides in his office with the autopsy report, keeping it from Marilyn because he does not want it to haunt her like it will him. Protecting her from emotional harm is kind, but it also deprives James of the chance to process his grief with the one person who would truly be able to understand and empathize with his loss. Marilyn's investigation of Lydia's blank diaries begins to fracture the image that Marilyn had of her daughter. She wants to understand what brought about Lydia's death and to find the key that will allow her to make sense of the loss, but there is nothing for her to find, no explanation that will illuminate the reasons behind Lydia's decisions. The aftermath of Lydia’s death emphasizes the ways that silence continues to harm the Lee family, first denying them the ability to communicate, then depriving them of the chance to grieve and heal.