Uncertainty and doubt vs. clinical inevitability. Tom is wary of people asking questions, Pa is wary of the buyers, Ma is weary of what happened to Tom in prison, Muley uncertain of his fate, and the preacher about his faith.
Meanwhile the tractors cut the land into even, perfect strips and the banks exact to every %. Yet even they are unsure how the system they work for works.
Man is a collection of doubts.
The insomnia (and following amnesia) the town suffers introduces an interesting paradox. With the loss of memory comes the loss of emotion and any nostalgia for the past and that turns men hard and cruel. However, we see sentimentality and nostalgia as being fake and unearned emotions that are ‘the mask of cruelty’.
That center cannot hold because either all feeling are fake but at least felt, or they don’t exist