Joe feels uncomfortable over Kates ongoing brooding silence. She hasnt slept or eaten for days and while he believes she is hatching up destructive plots, she is actually dismayed over the events of the previous evening when Charles brought Aron to meet her for the first time. By asking Joe a tricky series of questions, she discovers that he has been lying to her about Ethel and turns him in to the sheriff. She scrawls her will leaving all her money to Aron then takes a fatal does of medication while she relives a childhood fantasy of Alice in Wonderland. Joe, rifling through her papers the next morning, discovers the incriminating blackmail photos, the safe deposit key and her will. However, a deputy arrives and Joe runs for it only to be shot dead.
Sheriff Horace Quinn informs Adam of Kates death and that Aron has inherited $100,000 from his mother. Shattered, Adam cries out, “Oh, my poor darling.” Despite Adams request not to tell Aron of his mothers will, the sheriff insists. But, Cal is not to be found. When he is finally questioned, he sarcastically replies: “Am I supposed to look after him?”
Cal, drunk for the first time in an attempt to quell his shame and guilt, offers a sacrifice by burning the $15,000. Lee saves him from the pit of despair by helping him understand that he is a normal human being imbued with both good and bad traits. Adam receives a card from Aron stating he has joined the army.
Adams health begins to decline. Abra confides in Cal that she no longer loves Aron but loves Cal instead. She confesses to him that her own father is a thief, burns Arons letters and feels exhilarated.
Adam tells Lee about the fortune left by Cyrus who sees the hypocrisy involved in the unquestionably honest Adam Trask building a life of leisure on an ill-gained fortune, and the possibility of the deeply religious Aron living his life on the wages of prostitution.
Abras visit cheers Lee. He says he wishes she was his daughter and she wishes that he was her father. He presents her with his mothers jade ornament and she kisses him tenderly for the first time ever in his life. Abra and Cal continue to develop a loving relationship and he decides to take flowers to his mothers grave.
Through increased mental anguish and physical pain, Kate is punished for her past. She increasingly lives in her gray room, realizes she cant control anyone anymore and ultimately takes her life. The unclean inheritance motif continues in the form of Kates will of $100,000 to her son, Aron. Cyrus left the same amount to Adam and Charles and Charles left $100,000 also to Adam and Kate. Thus, the original sin has played out through three generations. In the biblical sense, the sins of the fathers have been visited upon the sons. In this vein, Cal is redeemed. He burns the money he made by less than moral means and was left out of his mothers will. There could be a turnaround on this, however, if we read beyond the end of the novel. Cal will stand to inherit Aron and Adams wealth.