Summary: Chapter 2: Lonely Among Us

Geraldine comes home from the hospital, and Joe returns to school, where he reconnects with his friends Virgil Lafournais (Cappy), Zack Peace, and Angus Kapshaw. The four boys usually hang out together, united by their love of Star Wars. Cappy is Joe’s closest friend. Geraldine is too traumatized from the brutal attack to leave her bedroom. Judge Coutts takes a leave of absence from his job. Joe’s Uncle Whitey and his wife Sonja, an ex-stripper with whom Joe is infatuated, lend Joe’s family their guard dog, Pearl. Joe and Cappy help Randall, Cappy’s older brother, hold a prayer ceremony in a sweat lodge. The ceremony goes comically wrong when someone accidentally throws hot pepper on the fire. Before this happens, Randall has a troubling vision of a silver-haired man bending over Joe. 

Geraldine starts cooking again after Judge Coutts deliberately makes a horrible stew. As she cooks, Judge Coutts goes to his office to retrieve some files. When he returns through the kitchen, Geraldine doesn’t hear him, and she drops a casserole when he touches her. Then she goes upstairs and shuts herself off again. Later, Judge Coutts shows Joe the files and explains that they are going to find the criminal.

Analysis: Chapter 2: Lonely Among Us

The novel’s second chapter explores friendship, family, and community as a theme. It reveals the importance of Joe’s connections with his friends and how the structures of each of their families shape the community. After the attack, the extended family supports Joe and his parents. Aunt Clemence comes to help them in the hospital, and Sylvia loans them her fierce guard dog Pearl. Joe’s extended family offers nothing but support within the extent of their means. Joe mentions his four closest friends, and the way he describes their families reveals that not all families in the community are traditional. Non-nuclear families including extended aunts, uncles, cousins, and adoptive parents round out the community, and this highlights how these families and the community they live in become closer and more tightly-knit due to an almost opting-in nature in their creation. The fact that people are taken into families of which they have little to no blood relation creates a closer bond. Meanwhile, in the same section about these families, Joe inserts a bit of foreshadowing about Cappy. It can be inferred that Cappy is dead by the time Joe tells his story. But the two are still closely connected because Joe carries his spirit with him in the form of a black stone. These platonic and familial connections remain with Joe even after the events that play out in the text.