Summary: Chapters 6–7

Chapter 6 (1952)

Pa tells Kya he will be gone for four days, trying to get more disability money. While he is gone, Kya takes out Pa’s small fishing boat. She navigates it through the channels to the sea and encounters one of Jodie’s old friends fishing. When Kya gets lost, the boy, Tate Walker, guides her back to her channel. Later, Tate helps his father Scupper Walker unload the catch from his fishing boat and make dinner. Tate thinks with sadness and guilt about his mother and sister, who are not with them. Scupper reads a poem at dinner, and later Tate reads a poem for class that reminds him of Kya. 

Chapter 7 (1952)

When Pa returns, Kya asks if he will take her fishing, and he complies. They have a good time and the fishing trips continue. Kya and Pa have fish to eat, he doesn’t drink and speaks kindly to her. She is grateful for this “shred” of family.

Analysis: Chapters 6–7

Kya cannot, as much as she would seem to prefer it, remove herself entirely from the world of people. Her first foray into the waters surrounding her shack is evocative of her new, slow, stilted move away from the potential threat and pain brought about by people. But as will happen again and again, she is pulled back to a kind of civilization. When she gets lost and stuck in her boat, Tate Walker tows her back to her shack. As self-sufficient as she is, Kya realizes that she cannot live entirely on her own. She is, as much as it seems she would prefer otherwise, a person and not an animal; she has needs that cannot be met by wild creatures.

By bridging the gender divide in asking to be shown how to fish, Kya creates a space for herself in her father's awareness. This section also marks the closest that Kya will be with her father. Kya is a reminder to Pa of Ma, but by showing interest in "masculine" activities like fishing, Kya helps Pa to let his guard down and interact with Kya in a conventionally parental way. Kya's first caught fish arouses both gratitude and sympathy within herself. As bad as she feels for it, she considers it a sacrifice to aid her relationship with her father. Kya will continue to sacrifice beliefs, feelings, and better judgement to the men in her life in the service of straddling the line between nature and human connection. Kya's reluctant relationships with Tate and Chase demonstrate the wrenching trauma of the push and pull that stems from Kya's attempts to feel that her only remaining parent cares at all about her.