The most significant new character to be highlighted in this section of the book is Walter, a senile, cancer-ridden old man who is dying within the encampment. He is gentle and kind, though he imagines Wanda to be his wife Gladys when he is not lucid. His presence is not significant to the plot, but helps to demonstrate Wanda's growing connection to the survivors, and helps to show them that she can be trusted.
In this section, the primary conflict seems to be more or less the same; there are those among the campers and survivors who wish to kill Wanda, while Jeb and Jamie wish to keep her alive out of compassion. Much of the conflict stems from Jared wanting to kill Wanda; Ian, Jeb and Jamie resist that and argue for her continued presence within the camp.
During this time, especially as Jared spends more time around Wanda, he starts to be his old, loving self again, though still tinged with suspicion and curiosity. Melanie starts to resist Wanda falling in love with Jared, as that starts to happen; Jared even kisses Wanda. This conflict is not overemphasized in the novel thus far, but one can tell it is an issue that starts to divide the normally-united Melanie and Wanda within the same body.
Jamie and Wanda start to learn about each other in this section, and develop a close friendship which helps her blend in with the rest of the humans. Wanda and Ian reconcile their differences as well, with hints of a romantic infatuation Ian has with Wanda; he turns from a threat to yet another ally. By request from Jeb, Wanda decides to teach the humans about the other worlds that are out there, with the help of Jamie; this helps her serve a purpose within the group, as she starts to wash clothes, break down stones, and integrate herself further into the camp.
The raiders, including Jared and Kyle, return, and are upset that Wanda has been integrated into the group. With threats of death, Jeb and Jamie managed to calm Jared down, while Kyle is still suspicious. Not able to resist the thought that Melanie might still be alive within Wanda, Jared kisses Wanda; Melanie punches him in retaliation and shock. After this short event, things return to normal; Wanda is asked to see the dying Walter and pretends to be his wife so he may die in peace. This helps ingratiate her within the group, and allow Wanda to make another close connection with a human.
One raider claims that a Seeker is searching for them in a helicopter, which flies around before leaving. Feeling that she is too dangerous to keep alive, Kyle tries to kill Wanda; she subdues him in the attempt, but saves him from falling to his death, taking him to medical attention. Walter dies; they go to Walter's funeral, where Wanda sees just how much reverence they have for the old man. After that, the humans hold a tribunal about Kyle's attack on Wanda; the verdict is to not punish Kyle, but give him one last warning to abide by Jeb's rules for living in the camp. In order to let off steam, the humans play soccer, and let Wanda in on the game. Kyle states that he will not try to kill Wanda any longer, forging a tentative peace between them.
My feelings as I read this novel are those of cautious interest, but that interest is waning. Primarily because the main conflicts and events of the previous section are repeated in this, it starts to seem slower and more drawn out the further the story goes. I begin to relate to Wanda a bit less, as the arguments for and against her being allowed to live get more and more repetitive; the constant push and pull is boring after awhile, because it is clear from early on that she will remain part of the group.
Characters seem to turn over to her side fairly quickly and without a lot of trouble; Ian, Jared and even Kyle start to turn around to side with her, and there is little that Wanda proactively does throughout the book, which confuses me. Perhaps it is due to the claustrophobic setting of the book, but the daily grind of cave life is not extremely appealing to me after the first five chapters, even though it has gone on for more than twenty at this point. I want to get past the point where the characters decide for good what they want to do with Wanda, and how she fits into the overall story.
In terms of how the novel so far relates to the real world, I think there is a real sense of terror regarding the possible loss of loved ones. From Walter to the threat of losing Melanie to both Jamie and Jared, the universal idea of death of a close family member is something that a lot of people feel, and that is something that Meyer can manipulate for the reader. Even the idea that Melanie is still alive fills Jared and Jeb, as well as Jamie, with hope; this is part of the reason why they stop themselves from killing her as a potential spy; they carry too much love and affection for something that at least seems to be the person they used to know.
Paranoia is presented very well and in great detail throughout the novel; I feel as though that resonates with a lot of people in a post-9/11 world. Especially shortly after the attacks, people wondered whether or not their neighbor was to be trusted, or if they were going to plan an attack to kill them. These feelings still pervade society today, leaving an air of distrust and suspicion that leaves no one completely trusted. The conflict between Wanda and the humans as to whether or not she can be trusted plays on these fears, as they never know when she might turn.
One of my major issues with the book so far is the seemingly inexplicable romantic attraction that occurs on the part of Wanda toward Jared. Except for within Melanie's memories, Jared is nothing but distrustful, violent and spiteful to her, often threatening to kill her at the slightest sign of odd behavior. As a result, I find it ludicrous that she starts to fall for Jared, and that Melanie would be so insecure as to be offended at that possibility. It shows a very immature, uninteresting and openly submissive aspect of Wanda's personality, which is something that should be taken in a different direction. Overall, I am dissatisfied with the love triangle that is forming between Jared and the two entities sharing Melanie's body.
I almost wish that Melanie would have more of a presence within the book, and I was satisfied when I saw the establishment of the fact that she could take over body parts when Wanda lets her concentration go. It would present more of a conflict for the characters, and would make the dilemma more interesting, if they could see Melanie more and more. This way, they would be more torn about killing her, even those who see Wanda as a traitorous monster; they would be forced to hear from and talk to the human girl they would also end up killing. To this point, I am still not entirely sure why they are covering up the fact that Melanie still exists.