Ploughing in farming terms, refers to the act of refreshing the soil in readiness for seeding. The top layer is turned over, bringing nutrients to the surface and turning under weeds. The fluctuations between Chris's English and Scottish natures are reflected in this farming metaphor.
She constantly turns over the advantages and disadvantages of each characteristic, readying herself for her future.
The chapter ends at a defining point of her life. The Scottish Chris emerges at the forefront of her consciousness, and thoughts of the English Chris are banished. The death of her mother signals the defining point in this 'ploughing' process.
Drilling – here, the land is literally drilled into rows in preparation for planting. This stage of the narrative refers to the harsh experiences Chris must endure in preparation for her future life.
The chapter deals with the aftermath of her mother's suicide and the shocking realisation that
the Chris of the books had died. The chapter details some of the harshest descriptions of farming life in the novel, with the
harvest madness descending on the population.
John Guthrie's sexual drives impact on Chris's sexual awakening, as does her encounter with the Tink. The chapter ends with Chris reflecting on her father's stroke.
Seed-time – This chapter deals with the aftermath of John Guthrie's death and Chris' freedom to sow the seeds of her own future.
It marks the definitive decision Chris makes – choosing the land over the books. The chapter details her relationship with Ewan and ends with her realisation that she is pregnant.
Harvest – Chris' harvest is a bittersweet one. Her love for Ewan is rocked by his changed personality brought about by his army service.
Her love for her child is balanced with a sense of disorientation and loss. In a broader sense, the chapter reflects on the bitter harvest of war.