• The story opens abruptly with the announcement that Jack Hawthorne runs over his younger brother with a tractor and kills him.
• Jack says the accident would have been avoided if he had put on the brakes.
• Jack sits frozen and watches as the piece of equipment runs over his brother.
• Jack is 12 at the time of the accident; his brother David is 7; his sister Phoebe, who witnessed the accident, is 5.
• Dale Hawthorne, Jack's father, is broken-hearted over his son's death.
• Despite blaming God for his son's death, he also blames Jack.
• Dale begins smoking and taking long rides on his motorcycle.
• He contemplates suicide but decides against it because of what it would do to his wife and children.
• Dale Hawthorne begins having affairs with local women and stays away from the farm.
• Betty Hawthorne holds her family together and does not outwardly show her grief.
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