Tristram finds a letter from his sister Emma in the mail rack at school. Emma lives in China, and the letter is full of grim news about the strict new population control measures that are being set in place. There's been at least one mass execution of offenders. She also mentions that the rice crops in Fukien Province have failed.
Tristram recalls a letter that he received recently from his brother George, who lives near Springfield, Ohio. The letter mentioned "a strange wheat-blight seeping east through Iowa, Illinois and Indiana" (2.1.11).
Tristram has an uneasy feeling about the wheat-blight, the failed rice crops, and the low herring populations—there seems to be some kind of connection, but he can't put his finger on it.
After class, Tristram runs into Geoffrey Wiltshire, the young man who got the promotion Tristram wanted. Geoffrey informs Tristram that he was listening in on his morning lecture, and that Tristram is bordering on unacceptably radical teachings.
Like Joscelyne, Geoffrey warns Tristram to toe the line.
During the lunch break, one of Tristram's colleagues makes a joke about morning sickness. Suddenly, Tristram realizes why Beatrice-Joanna has been throwing up so often.