The Trask boys hunt rabbits. "Right through the heart," says the dark-haired Cal who always wants to fight. Aron is golden-haired and fights only when provoked. Cal tells Aron he knows a secret: their mother isn't really dead and still lives in Salinas. Cal delightfully realizes he has found Aron's Achilles heel-the love of their mother.
Unexpected visitors await them at home. The Bacons have with them their beautiful eleven-year-old daughter Abra. While the children play outside, Mr. Bacon suggests that the family move to Salinas for better educational opportunities. Abra takes control of the boys. Adam runs to get the dead rabbit and places it in a box with a note asking her to marry him. When he is gone, Cal scares Abra into thinking there is a snake in the box and Abra tosses the box out of the cart. Aron's heart breaks.
During dinner, Adam surprises the boys by inquiring about their lives. Cal, ever one to take advantage of a situation, asks about his mother, and Adam is again forced to lie. Lee suggests he tell them the truth and tells Adam how his own mother disguised herself as a man to follow her railroad laborer husband to the United States from China and gave birth to him after a mob attacked and raped her. Adam writes to Charles inviting him to visit his family in California.
Will Hamilton arrives with the new car and after a week of failure, Adam drives into town where he retrieves a letter announcing the death of Charles and an inheritance of $100,000 to be split between Adam and his wife. Cal eavesdrops on a conversation and learns that his mother is not only alive but presently living in Salinas as a whore. Before going to bed, he begs God to make him good.
The Cain and Abel paradigm is expanded in the two boys: one good-hearted, the other headed toward evil. Cal is jealous that Abra favors his brother. Upon hearing of their uncle's death, Cal thinks immediately of money while Aron thinks of putting flowers upon his grave. However, Cal exhibits the ability to choose good over evil. The novel's central thematic concern, the battle of goodness over evil, rages on. Here too, we see the results of Cyrus' "original sin"; the ill-gained inheritance Cyrus left to Adam and Charles comes into play once more.