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In Chapter Eight, Bernard asks John to tell him about growing up in the Indian village. John recalls how his mother Linda used to have sex with many men. Pope became her steady lover because he brought her mescal (alcohol). At one point, the women of the village beat Linda because they did not want her to continue sleeping with their husbands. Following the beating, Linda slapped John because she blamed him for her predicament.
Linda taught John to read while he was a child, and reading allowed him to superior to the other boys who beat and taunted him for being different. On his twelfth birthday, John received a volume of The Complete Works of Shakespeare. He learned to read the entire volume and received an odd sort of inspiration from many of the passages. Once, he found his mother in bed with Pope and fell into a rage. Remembering a particular verse from Shakespeare ("When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage / Or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed..."), he attempted to kill Pope with a knife, though he failed and suffered a beating.
At fifteen, John learned how to make clay pots from one of the older Indians. Later the same man taught him how to construct bows and arrows. However, John did not receive permission to enter the kiva, a ritual initiation to turn the young boys into men. Instead, the other village boys drove him away into the desert with a barrage of stones. This incident highlighted his status as an outsider and made him lonely.