Ultima teaches Antonio the names of plants and flowers and trees and birds. He learns from her the beauty of the natural world and the fact that his spirit shares in the spirit of all things.
The peace of the house is shattered one night when a man named Chávez arrives, yelling that his brother the sheriff has been murdered. He tells Antonio's father to get his rifle and head for the bridge over the river where the killer, Lupito, is hiding. Lupito is a World War II veteran whose mental balance has been upset by his war experiences. Antonio follows them. After some turmoil and confusion, during which Antonio comes very close to Lupito in his hiding place, Lupito is killed by gunfire from the men of the town. Antonio is deeply troubled by this. He is being raised in a Catholic family, and he wonders what will now happen to Lupito's soul. His fear vanishes when he hears Ultima's owl hooting, and realizes that the owl has been with him all night. That night he has a dream about his three brothers, who say they are going to travel with their father, while Antonio must stay at home and become a farmer-priest to please his mother.
This chapter gives insight into Antonio's personality. Under Ultima's guidance, he reveals himself to be sensitive not only to the wonders of nature but also to its mysterious spirit. He can sense, for example, the presence of the river. He also possesses innate curiosity, especially about religious and spiritual matters. The incident involving Lupito is traumatic for him. It is his first encounter with death, and represents the first loss of innocence in his child's world. After Lupito's death Antonio begins to ask questions about good and evil, and about God and forgiveness. His quest for answers to these vital questions continues throughout the novel.