Sister Wanda explains that Desdemona must stay in the women’s quarters and never go into the main temple. The women sell silk clothing, but they’ve run out of silk. Fard suggested they grow their own, but their silkworms keep dying. Brought before the Muslim Girls Training and Civilization Class, Desdemona begins her lessons to them with her mother’s maxim: To raise silk, one must be pure.
Desdemona finds working at the temple familiar because she grew up in a country occupied by the Muslim Turks. She enjoys working with the women and girls and is calmed by the familiarity of raising silkworms. For her Black coworkers, the temple reverses American society: welcoming Black people and keeping whites out. Desdemona never sees Fard’s face, but he is a constant source of discussion for the women.
Desdemona oversees the conversion of the outhouse to a cocoonery and teaches the girls to weave feeding trays. She spends most of her time in the silk room amongst the bolts of fabric.
One day, she overhears Fard’s sermon through a heating grate, and she is fascinated. This is the first of several she listens to, including his sermon on tricknology. Fard claims that thousands of years ago, a scientist named Yacub decided to create a race genetically different from the original people, who were the Black nation. Through experiments, Yacub created all the other races and then finally white people, a race created through evil and murder. Desdemona is upset at hearing white people called devils. She decides Fard is a charlatan.
However, as she hears more of Fard’s lectures, she can’t tear herself away. The guilt she feels about committing incest swells. She continually asks Lefty whether he ever worries the children might have birth defects. She laments that they’re terrible people and wishes she had died in Smyrna. Fard’s lectures explain further that through tricknology, the white race brought Black people to America and cut them off from their noble heritage. Desdemona, now sensitive to racism, believes that Fard may be right about blue-eyed devils. Despite her brown eyes, she worries she’s a devil too.
Meanwhile, Lefty has diversified his business model by procuring models for a photographer. The photographer shoots the women in suggestive poses with cars. Cal has seen some of these photos and wondered why his grandfather started looking for girls different from his wife.