The setting is reflective of the kind of characters and the situation they would be in.
The nipa huts look desolate and empty, reflective of how their occupants behave and feel for each other.
They have no neighbors and yet the need for each other seems remote and distant. Hatred overrules. They are most afraid one of them would give way. The building of the fence seems necessary to protect themselves from each other.
Hatred comes from a betrayal-- when Aling Biang caught her husband with Aling Sebia, the childless widow.
Aling Biang could not forgive. Aling Sebia seems not remorseful as she matches the anger and hatred of Aling Biang. The husband left without a word and never came back. He is part of the mess, but left it unsettled.
The vegetable rows that used to separate the nipa huts are slowly dying. The owners are afraid that if they watered the vegetables, they would also at the same time nurture the plants of the other. This seems reflective of their unwillingness to forgive and live again.
Aling Sebia is going to deliver a child. Aling Biang is the only person who could help her. This could have been an opportunity for reconciliation, but after Aling Biang helps her there is complete silence.
The hatred goes on like a curse. The children of the two women grow unhealthy and ugly. Aling Biang implants hatred in Iking's heart, although Iking feels otherwise.
It is the very first music in his life. Although the notes are not complete, Iking likes to hear it.
When he reaches fifteen, he stops sleeping beside his mother. He wants to sleep by the door where he could hear the guitar being played. He is beginning to show signs of protest, but he is physically weak.
This time he knows it is the girl who plays the guitar. He wants to destroy the fence that is starting to decay. But his mother reinforces the decaying stakes which had been weathered by time.
The guitar stops playing.