He had held on for years, encouraged by his mother's continual reminders to keep fighting. But now, it feels worthless.
He plays with a switchblade knife, wondering exactly how he should kill himself.
He thinks about the movies he had watched, and remembers the theme of "dying with honor" that pervades so many of them. "Dying with honor," when connected to suicide, usually involved plunging a long, thin sword into the heart or guts.
But he still has doubts, even as he contemplates how he will kill himself.
Mama joins him. He tries to hide the knife, but she's seen it. She keeps looking at him, then at the knife, and Mark feels guilty. Finally, he asks her whether anybody would even miss him if he died.
Mama starts to cry. Then she tells him to look at his sisters, playing in the mud. She says they would miss him very much. With no big brother to protect them or help them, what will they do?
This touches Mark deeply and he starts to cry.
Mama hugs him and he asks if she would miss him too. She tells him she would miss him more than anybody else would, that she would want to die if he died.
Then she asks him for the knife, and makes him promise that he will never do what he was thinking of doing.
Mark smiles. After that, whenever he was troubled or struggling, Mama watched him closely but they would talk about it and he would feel better.
He realized then that it always helps to have someone who loves you to share in your suffering.