Study Guide

Serena Chapter 2

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Chapter 2

  • The next morning, Pemberton introduces his wife to the workers—all one hundred of them. There are a few nasty comments about how she's dressed like a man, but the workers figure out pretty quickly they need to take her seriously.
  • Pemberton gives us a little backstory on Serena: She grew up in Colorado, where her dad owned the Vulcan Lumber Company, so she knows her stuff.
  • He explains to the workers that they need to obey her, just like they would him. She's their boss.
  • Serena asks one of the men, Bilded, if he wants to bet. They will each guess how tall a certain tree is, and the winner gets two weeks pay.
  • Bilded thinks it's a trick—after all, it seems like an easy way for him to make some extra cash—yet Serena assures him that she's being genuine and writes her estimate on a piece of paper. Bilded does the same, and when the tree is chopped that afternoon, they'll measure it.
  • During the day, Serena decides to ride her new, white horse, a wedding present from Pemberton, around the crews to see the workers in action.
  • It's clear she likes to be out there with the men, learning about their work. Pemberton, on the other hand, sticks at home to pay the bills.
  • He remembers how in awe he was of Serena when he first met her at the New England Hunt Club. She could keep up with the boys and didn't care what anyone thought of her.
  • In fact, many women talked trash about her because she dressed differently. Serena never cared, though, and Pemberton loved her for it.
  • He also thinks about how she is only ever scared in her dreams. Sure, she doesn't talk about them much, but he can tell she's having a nightmare when her body thrashes this way and that. Plus, there's the screaming.
  • Pemberton's business partner, Harris, shows up, wanting to meet Pemberton's new bride, but she's still out learning about the landscape and work.
  • Harris jokes around with Pemberton that his gal isn't real. After all, she seems too good to be true, the way that Pemberton talks about her.
  • Later, Pemberton makes his way out to where Serena is eating lunch with some of the workers. He notices that they already respect her; she taught them some new tricks to cut the trees, and they are impressed.
  • As Pemberton and Serena chat, it's clear that she likes to take charge—she is always making plans for their future, whether Pemberton knows it or not.
  • The workers gather to hear the results of the bet between Serena and Bilded.
  • Some of the workers talk about their new boss Serena, and McIntyre is convinced that she's bad news. He thinks this is a sign of the end times.
  • Then again, he's always pointing out Bible verses that he doesn't really understand.
  • Serena is the winner by thirty feet. Hooray—a celebratory drink is in order.
  • Buchanan, Wilkie, Doctor Cheney, Pemberton, and Serena head to the office to get some scotch and Serena downs it with the men.
  • We learn that her family died during the 1918 flu epidemic when she was sixteen. Everyone thinks she's lucky to be the sole survivor, but she knows it's not down to luck—she simply refused to die. Um, whatever you say, lady…
  • Campbell appears at the door and asks whether he should take two weeks of Bilded's pay from the bet; he needs to know for payroll. The guy has a wife and three kids and all, so…
  • Pemberton and Serena are in agreement: A bet is a bet, so Bilded won't be paid for the next two weeks, and then he'll be fired. Ouch.
  • The doc points out that Campbell is very intelligent. He tries to sway people to make certain decisions without actually telling them so. Dr. Cheney thinks he could have made it at Harvard if his circumstances were different.
  • Wilkie asks to learn more about Serena's dad, which puzzles her. The guy's dead, so he's not of much use anymore.

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