Ruth had showered and changed into the shapeless expensive things she wore at home, freshly laundered. She emerged from downstairs and didn’t even feel undefended, as she would if she’d encountered the doorman while dressed thus. She was at peace with these people. They knew one another now.

Ruth has had her reservations about Amanda and Clay from the beginning, but by Chapter 31, her attitude about them has mellowed. Early in their interactions, Ruth recognizes Amanda’s racism, but rather than confronting her, she responds with civility and poise. To communicate her authority, Ruth is highly conscious of how she presents herself, even in her own home. She understands that Amanda, Clay, and even the doorman in her Park Avenue building will judge her negatively for dressing in comfortable clothing, even if it is clean and expensive. By this point in the novel, the emergency has brought them together, and she finds she can relax in front of them in ways that would have previously been unimaginable. Their relationship is complex, certainly, but in the face of the mysterious disaster, Ruth has fully accepted them into her life.

It was Clay’s instinct to consult the Washingtons. Put four heads together. A conference, strength in numbers, the wisdom of their more advanced age, but none of them had ever seen anything like this

In this quotation, at the beginning of Chapter 34, Clay shows his willingness to seek guidance from his elders in a way that harks back to earlier and simpler times. When several of Archie’s teeth fall out, all of Clay and Amanda’s protective parental instincts shift into top gear, but they have no idea what to do next. The only thing Clay can think of is to go to G. H. and Ruth for help. Fear of the unknown has bound the four adults together in a small, co-dependent community. Although the Washingtons have never experienced anything similar, they do what they can to provide support and advice. G. H. and Ruth help Amanda and Clay think rationally and consider their options, and, as a group, they make the decision to take Archie to the emergency room. From now on, despite their differences, they function as a group. 

Ruth wanted to say: You don’t need your things. You have us. We have one another.

This quotation, in Chapter 38, illustrates that fear of the unknown has reduced life to a very simple equation in Ruth’s mind. As Amanda frantically searches for Rose, she begins to panic that she hasn’t packed and won’t be ready to leave when G. H. comes back to take them to the hospital. In the face of the disaster already bearing down on them, Ruth realizes that possessions are largely irrelevant. She understands that the most important thing is to stick together, to form a community, and to support one another. Ruth and Amanda met just two nights ago, but with the world imploding around them, the fact that they barely know each other no longer matters. They are human, and humans are social animals. The differences that seemed so divisive at the beginning of the novel evaporate and become meaningless in the face of the terrifying unknown.