Study Guide

Serena Chapter 4

By Ron Rash

Chapter 4

  • Pemberton remembers helping the men put down the train tracks last September. He purposely worked among the men for a month before kicking back in the office, just to gain their respect.
  • That was last year. Now Pemberton has to decide whom to make foreman (translation: manager) and replace Bilded.
  • Wilkie, Buchanan, and Pemberton talk about potential candidates when Serena comments that the men should be afraid of the foreman so they keep working and don't slack of.
  • Buchanan disagrees, but realizes he shouldn't cross Serena on this one.
  • The men ask Serena if she's planning on going anywhere for the summer but she doesn't see the point in going back to Colorado now that she's left it.
  • Plus, once her family died, she burned the place down. Oh.
  • The men strike up a conversation about the Pembertons partnering with Harris. None of them are against it, so long as their partnership isn't neglected.
  • If we read between the lines here, we can see that the men are a little nervous about what the new partnership means for them, but they are too afraid to say anything.
  • Pemberton lets Galloway know that he has the promotion. Then he thinks about the past. He wonders how his life would be different if he hadn't met Rachel—he wouldn't be a father or have killed a man.
  • It dawns on him that there's no point to dwelling on the past. Serena is always saying that. It's already gone.
  • The next afternoon one of the workers gets bitten by a rattlesnake and dies. Serena asks the doc about the snakes out this way, and he tells her that five other men have been bitten there.
  • Everyone says the snakes will go away for winter and return with a vengeance in the spring.
  • But Serena's not so sure that will happen.